Reno Is A Welcoming City. But What Does That Mean?

Mar 29, 2017

The city of Reno is now officially a Welcoming City, after the city council voted unanimously last week to adopt the resolution.

Our news director Michelle Billman spoke with our reporter Noah Glick to break down what that means.

What exactly is a welcoming city? What does that mean for the city of Reno?

  • It’s primarily a symbolic gesture, re-affirming the city’s position of inclusion and zero tolerance stance on discrimination.
  • Much of the resolution has to do with community policing, and maintaining the police department’s rules about not profiling people based on race or ethnicity.
  • Nothing in this resolution changes any laws or statutes in the city charter.

How does this differ from a sanctuary city?

  • There are no set legal definitions for either designations.
  • Sanctuary cities typically focus on policing and immigration, with officers in those cities not assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement in detaining people for the purpose of deportation.
  • Welcoming cities are a little broader in scope, and includes subtext that suggests the designation goes beyond policing into all city functions, such as housing or employment.
  • Reno’s resolution specifically states that, “Reno is committed to being a welcoming city and sustaining a community where all of our residents feel welcome, safe and able to fully participate in, and contribute to our city’s economic and social life.”

So if there’s no change to laws, what does this accomplish for the city?

  • City Councilman Oscar Delgado, who sponsored the resolution, says many folks who have been here for generations don’t feel safe in Reno. This is a way for the city to show their support to these communities, which Delgado says are made up of law-abiding residents.
  • Delgado says the city cannot control what the federal government is going to do in terms of immigration, but he’s hoping this resolution will help put people at ease, who might otherwise be feeling scared about some of the national discussions concerning immigration.

How does the city of Reno handle immigration now?

  • Immigration enforcement happens on a federal level, which we recently saw when I.C.E. officers obtained several undocumented residents in town.
  • This resolution does not change anything in regards to policing, so RPD will still be unable to profile people based on ethnicity or race (as is current policy), and officers cannot ask for citizenship status.
  • The only way immigration is addressed currently is when someone commits a crime, is arrested and processed through the system. If that criminal offender is undocumented, then police can turn that over to federal immigration officers.
  • Reno Police Chief Jason Soto says that he wants communities to trust police officers, and that victims can report crimes without fear of being reported.
  • Soto says RPD can and has worked with I.C.E. in the past, but only in apprehending criminal offenders. They will not help detain law-abiding citizens for the purpose of deportation.

How does the community feel about this resolution?

  • Reaction from both sides has been very passionate, especially during the city council meeting where this was voted upon.
  • Supporters say undocumented residents are law-abiding folks who are trying to make a life for themselves and their family, like anyone else.
  • Opponents say this resolution is another way to sneak in the sanctuary city designation, and that it will encourage illegal immigration and increase crime.
  • Some supporters say that this measure doesn’t go far enough, because there is no new legislation that protects these individuals.

Reno Welcoming City Resolution by KUNR Reno Public Radio on Scribd