In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, Mayor Steve Adler reassured immigrants and refugees they are safe in Austin during his State of the City address Saturday evening.
On Friday, Trump signed an order to temporarily bar refugees, green card holders and travelers from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The next day, Federal Judge Ann M. Donnelly gave temporary stay to the order and halted its execution after refugees were detained at airports across the country. Adler said no political events can cause Austin to change its progressive views.
“No legislature and no election can change who we are and the values that as a community we hold dear,” Adler said. “The world can completely lose its mind, and we’re still going to be Austin, Texas.”
A thunderous standing ovation followed when Adler commended Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez for not allowing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to detain undocumented immigrants without warrants.
“All they have to do is get a warrant, that’s easy,” Adler said.
Hernandez said this policy will go into effect Wednesday, despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s statement that he would defund counties and remove elected officials who protect undocumented immigrants.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said local law enforcement, including his own officers, should not act as federal immigration enforcement.
“(Austin Police) can’t be brought in to enforce immigration laws, because we cannot afford to have a breakdown in our immigrant community, because they are more likely to be victimized,” Manley told The Daily Texan after the address.
Adler said affordability is one of his priorities as families have been pushed out because of rising housing costs and limited places to live.
“We cannot sit by while Austinites are priced out of Austin (and) when young people have to leave Austin to start their families,” Adler said.
CodeNEXT, a rewritten draft of Austin’s land code that has been in effect for over 30 years, will be released on Monday. The code will determine which buildings are placed where, putting pressure on city officials to fairly distribute housing opportunities for everyone.
“People of good will can find themselves in social constructs they did not create,” Adler said. “We are tasked with dismantling the messages of racism and discrimination.”
John William Meyer, UT Ph.D. candidate, said he appreciated Adler’s push for equal employment opportunities.
“His style seemed very pragmatic,” Meyer said. “I (like) him focusing on equity and the internship programs targeted at towards people who need it.”
Adler also continued his support for Austin’s local musicians, saying its music scene is what gives it character.
Adler concluded his speech by urging residents to defy state and federal policies that force Austin to change against the grain of its values and weirdness.
“No matter what happens, we will remain resolutely and unapologetically Austin,” Adler said. “We will show the world how to change, how to preserve our soul and how to make ourselves great over and over again. Let that be what this year is about.”