Berkeley Will Remain Sanctuary City, Mayor-Elect Vows


November 22, 2016

Contact Stefan Elgstrand (510) 502-7003

Berkeley, Calif. (Nov. 22, 2016) - Flanked by a majority of the Berkeley City Council, Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín announced Tuesday that Berkeley will remain a ‘sanctuary city,’ rebuking threats made by President-elect Donald Trump to penalize cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal officials.

“Berkeley will remain a beacon of light during this dark time,” Arreguín said. “From hard-working families in our neighborhoods to Dreamers in our classrooms, our city will be a safe space.”

President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to cut off federal funding to ‘sanctuary cities’—over 300 cities across America—whose local governments don’t alert federal immigration officials when they discover undocumented immigrants. Many of these cities are also refusing to cave to threats from Washington—including San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago.

Arreguín, who becomes Berkeley’s first Latino mayor on December 1, said this kind of strong solidarity amongst like-minded cities reduces the likelihood that Trump’s Administration will actually act on such draconian threats.

“Trump’s election has had a chilling effect on race relations across America, and now there’s a clear and present danger to families in our own city,” said Arreguin “They’re truly scared, and our best line of defense are cities standing up to this president.”

Berkeley currently receives approximately $11.5 million in federal funding, according to city staff. Most of it helps the City’s most vulnerable on issues such as affordable housing, supportive care, emergency shelter and health services.

The City’s reaffirmation of its status as a ‘sanctuary city’ does not change how the Police Department enforces the law. Police will continue acting vigilantly to go after violent crime, regardless of a suspect’s immigration status—and will ask the district attorney to prosecute all serious crimes to the fullest extent of the law.

Berkeley has a strong history as a safe and welcoming place for immigrants and refugees—the city became a City of Refuge in 1971, and reaffirmed this status in 2007 in the face of raids by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Bay Area. And last year, when many Republican governors refused to allow Syrian refugees into their states after the Paris attacks, Berkeley passed a resolution that welcomed refugees around the world.

Arreguín said this isn’t only a matter of progressive principles—this decision has actual consequences. “Berkeley is home to families of all backgrounds and cultures,” Arreguín said. “And I’ll do everything in my power to protect them.”


Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín was elected mayor of Berkeley on November 8, 2016 and will be sworn in on December 1, 2016—he will become the city’s youngest mayor, and its first Latino mayor. The mayor-elect currently serves as a member of the Berkeley City Council, where he has represented District 4 since his election in 2008. Prior to serving as a councilmember, Mayor-Elect Arreguín was a member of the City’s Zoning Adjustments Board, the Housing Advisory Commission—and an elected member of the Rent Stabilization Board, which he chaired. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley

Jesse Arreguin