- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Democratic mayor said on Friday he wants to make his city a sanctuary city to help worried immigrant populations, joining other mayors who say they plan to do all they can to protect residents from deportation.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump has said he’ll strip federal funding from cities that have policies to shelter or protect immigrants in the country illegally.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger told Vermont Public Radio his city’s intention is to keep following the practice of not asking about immigration status when providing municipal services. He said he wants immigrants to know they’re living in the same Burlington today as they were before Election Day.

He said Burlington isn’t going to turn police and city officials into deputies of the federal government. The city has about 42,000 residents, 10 percent of whom were born outside the United States.

The sanctuary city practice of delivering police services regardless of a person’s immigration status and of not inquiring about immigration matters during police encounters has been the practice of Burlington officers all along, police Chief Brandon del Pozo said. It’s “an important element of public safety,” he said.

“To get criminals off the street and protect victims, everyone in a city has to feel comfortable reporting crimes, cooperating with the police, and asking for help when they need it,” he said in an emailed statement. “People worried the local police are looking to deport them will hesitate to help us apprehend criminals and get services to victims.”

He said police want to continue “the relationship of trust” they’ve built with the people who need their protection by locally emphasizing crime-fighting over immigration issues.

“This longstanding practice has enhanced Burlington’s public safety,” he said, “and the mayor has voiced support for continuing it.”

Trump talked tough about immigration on the campaign trail, including proposing building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, using a deportation force and deporting the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally. He later distanced himself from those statements and, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” broadcast last weekend, said he would focus on deporting people with criminal records beyond their immigration statuses.

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