A group of two dozen protesters derailed a Minneapolis City Council meeting Wednesday to demand leaders do more to support immigrant residents.
They came touting the “Minneapolis Sanctuary Platform” — a list of 13 policies ranging from creating a municipal ID to allowing noncitizens to vote in city elections.
“These are not ideas. These are demands,” Adriana Cerrillo, a member of Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), said after the council suspended meeting rules so she could speak. “We have had enough.”
Before the meeting, the group congregated on the steps of City Hall, carrying red-and-white signs and a banner reading “Sanctuary Now!” in English and Spanish. They were joined by several elected officials and candidates including Council Members Alondra Cano, Jacob Frey and John Quincy, and DFL state Rep. Ray Dehn. Both Frey and Dehn are running for mayor.
Speaking in Spanish through a megaphone that was passed back and forth to a translator, protesters talked about their experiences as immigrants and the impact the Sanctuary Platform policies could have.
Gloria Velasquez, who said deportations have separated her family, spoke to the crowd about “U Visas” — visas for victims of crimes who help in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. A Minneapolis Police Department policy guaranteeing certification of all U Visas is part of the Sanctuary Platform.
“Our community is under attack,” Velasquez said. “We want a line of defense in the city.”
This year, Minneapolis city leaders have repeatedly taken stances in support of immigrant residents.
In January, council members and Mayor Betsy Hodges promised to defend Minneapolis’ sanctuary city status, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order authorizing the federal government to cut funding from cities that prohibit their police from acting as immigration enforcement agents.
On Wednesday, the council voted to reaffirm its support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal program that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to stay in the country. Later in the meeting, Cano announced her intention to introduce an ordinance creating a municipal identification program.
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden told the protesters she appreciated their presence at the meeting.
“Some of these things the city is doing today, some of these things we need to communicate better with the community about and some of these are brand-new ideas that we need to consider,” she said.
That wasn’t what the protesters wanted to hear.
“We need you to act today. Not think about it anymore,” Cerrillo said. “Because I don’t know how you can go to sleep and say that you’re passing resolutions, and not acting [on] anything at all.”