Kent has a large, diverse population. We are very lucky to have amazing, smart, educated community members from all over the world. Students in the Kent School District speak 138 languages.
Kent has been a thriving, inclusive city for a long time, and its diversity is visible at the Kent International Festival.
Since the elections, I have listened to my friends and family expressing concerns about their children’s safety. They are worried about themselves and their families. Residents who are very engaged in the community have been a target of hateful comments. So the need for city government to reassure the community of its stance is very urgent.
Mayor Suzette Cooke and council members issued a proclamation on Feb. 21, stating Kent is a Welcoming City. I attended the council meeting and posted pictures on my social media account. Within minutes I had negative messages in my inbox, stating why our city would become a Sanctuary City.
Let me explain what the proclamation means.
Kent is not a Sanctuary City. There is a difference in Welcoming City and Sanctuary City. Sanctuary cities have policies limiting their cooperation with federal agencies. Kent has no such policies. If an individual is charged with a crime and enters the police system, the city will not take any steps to stop ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) from taking that person in their custody.
Mayor Cooke and City Council President Bill Boyce stated Kent will continue to be the city where everyone is welcome. No discrimination will be accepted. So residents should not be scared to call the police when needed. Police will do their job as they have before the election. They will not ask about a person’s immigration status.
I am thankful to our city officials for this step in the right direction. I would encourage residents to get out and talk to your neighbor. Have coffee with someone you occasionally see. Ask them about their story. You will find many similarities with people all over the world who call Kent home.
We have a Cultural Communities Board in Kent. It consists of 16 individuals from different walks of life and culture. We meet on the fourth Tuesday of the month. I would highly recommend to the readers to attend a CCB meeting. Agenda and location are posted on the city website, kentwa.gov.
Also, attend the Kent International Festival on June 3 at the ShoWare Center.
Please be kind to others.
– Satwinder Kaur