Mayor Benjamin discusses his immigration resolution
COLUMBIA (WACH) - Mayor Steve Benjamin's proposed resolution concerning refugee children and immigration has caused a tidal wave of controversy over the past couple of days.
Some people think the resolution is trying to bring refugee children to Columbia if they have nowhere else to go.
However, Mayor Benjamin says the point of this resolution is simply to send the message that if refugee children are legally brought to Columbia, people should greet them with open arms.
"It's our job to make sure that we set the proper tone that allows all children, from wherever they are, to know that if they're here, they're welcome." says Mayor Benjamin.
Mayor Benjamin believes Columbia shouldn't give these children the cold shoulder because as it turns out, the federal government is the one who determines where children go once they are inside the U.S. border.
So even if City Council wanted to bring in more children who may not have relatives anywhere else in the United States, they simply could not do that
"The federal government, through the Office of Refuge Resettlement, places children here because they have relatives who are called sponsors. So there's no way the City Council would have that authority to bring in more children." says Tammy Besherse from Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
Mayor Benjamin seems to recognize the limited power City Council holds when it comes to this issue, and says his resolution isn't trying to change federal law.
Rather, it's aiming to calm tempers that have gotten heated over immigration.
"We believe the burden will be very minimal. Our job is to make sure that some of the rather heated rhetoric that has come to define this discussion doesn't order the discussion here in South Carolina." states Mayor Benjamin.
I also spoke to councilman Cameron Runyan, who said it is not likely that he will support Benjamin's resolution.
Runyan says he has been in contact with the Governor's office to offer his assistance in bringing some closure to the issue.
However, he thinks immigration is a state and federal issue, and not one to be addressed by city leaders.
Council members are set to talk about the resolution on Tuesday.