Nearly nine months after passing a resolution declaring "support for refugees and immigrants," Brooklyn Park city leaders are taking stock of headway made and actions taken.
At a City Council meeting this week, staff pointed to markers of progress, from "All are welcome" signs created to hang in city buildings to tweaks to the police department's policy on immigration enforcement.
Council Member Susan Pha first proposed the resolution in February as a way to respond to mounting fears among community members over President Donald Trump's efforts to impose restrictions on immigration. Brooklyn Park is one of the most diverse cities in the state, with 1 in 5 residents born in a foreign country.
"Anxiety of the unknown continues to exist within our community," Assistant City Manager Wokie Freeman-Gbogba told council members Monday.
The resolution initially was met with pushback at City Hall, with city leaders first tabling the proposal amid questions about its language and whether it promoted meaningful action. The resolution had come under fire as being a "feel-good piece of paper."
Other cities, including Brooklyn Center, Richfield and St. Louis Park, have passed similar resolutions.
The Brooklyn Park proposal spurred weeks of debate and community meetings before council members passed it in March — with action steps attached.
"Some of those meetings became very emotional and sometimes pretty tense," Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen said Monday. "The police policy really became a focal point of the community."
Enevoldsen told City Council members that he modified the wording of the police department's immigration enforcement policy and tried to "put more oversight" language into it.
Since passing the resolution, city leaders and staff have supported immigration-related events, such as a photo exhibit held this fall to share the stories of refugees.
They've also had training on what resources to share with the community and used city communication platforms to offer information on where residents can turn for legal advice.
One activity involved posting "All are welcome" signs as a gesture of unity. That goal turned into an art contest that drew more than 30 submissions. Members of the city's Human Rights Commission unveiled the new sign Monday.
Its collage design used elements from each submission and offered a message of welcome in a dozen languages.
"We wanted it to be as inclusive and representative of the city as possible," said Linda Freemon, a member of the commission.