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sanctuary city


Grosso denounces Trump's heartless decision to end DACA

For Immediate Release:
September 5, 2017
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 -

Grosso denounces Trump's heartless decision to end DACA

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, released the following statement, on today’s announcement that President Donald Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months:

“President Trump’s decision to end DACA is simply heartless.  These young people have built a life here—living, learning, and working alongside neighbors, families, and friends. The District of Columbia and the whole country are better for it. Casting their lives into further uncertainty, he has chosen to abdicate his moral leadership and recklessly pin their futures on the whims of Congress by delaying action for another six months.

“Only hate could motivate a president to tear these individuals from their communities like this. I urge Congress to act before the March expiration of the program to secure the place of DACA recipients in our country.

“As the Chairperson of the Committee of Education, I am particularly concerned about how this assault on families and neighborhoods will negatively affect students, filling them with fear and causing emotional distress over the possibility that they or a loved one could be snatched away at any time. Trauma such as this stands as a significant barrier to the success of our students—one that I have worked to address as a top priority of the committee.

“The District of Columbia stands for the human rights of everyone, including our immigrant neighbors regardless of legal status.  I pledge to do everything I can on the Council to protect their place in our city and in our nation.  I implore the young people impacted by this terrible decision to keep studying, working, and striving toward their dreams.

“This year, Mayor Bowser and the Council provided $500,000 in new funds for legal service providers who stand ready to help those who need it.  I urge anyone with questions about their immigration status to contact one of the following organizations.”

  • AYUDA - (202) 387-4848
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, Inc. - (202) 772-4352
  • Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center - (202) 393-3572, ex. 22
  • Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International - (202) 529-2991
  • Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services - (202) 745-7000
  • Human Rights First - (202) 547-5692
  • KIND Inc. - (202) 824-8680
  • Asian/Pacific Island Domestic Violence Resource Project Confidential Helpline - (202) 833-2233
  • DC Affordable law Firm’s D.C. Immigrants’ Rights Project, in partnership with the Ethiopian Community Center and Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (202) 844-5430
  • CARECEN - (202) 328-9799
  • CAIR Coalition - (202) 331-3320




Supporting Immigrant Students and Their Families

By Eli Moraru*

In the Trump era, immigration has become a hot topic across the country. With a new push for deportations and the “Muslim ban” taking effect, immigrants across the nation fear for their safety and rights. The District of Columbia has promised to be a sanctuary city for all, but for many immigrant students and their families, these policies and laws are not enough to help them feel at home in our city.

For immigrant students, the new Trump policies are affecting their ability to succeed in school and feel safe in their communities. Supporting these young people and their families is key to making D.C. a better city. With around 23% of all D.C. residents being foreign born, it is important that immigrants and immigrant students are able to thrive in our communities.

As a member of the Woodrow Wilson Senior High School community and leader of the student group Estudiante 2 Estudiante (a student run group that pairs new immigrant students with accustomed students to create a sense of community for immigrant students through discussions, soccer, tutoring, mentoring, and fostering friendships between these students), I am able to talk to the students who are most affected by the Trump administration’s policies. I have met Angel (name has been changed for privacy), a rising junior and an undocumented immigrant. Angel and I have been able to develop a friendship through E2E and because of this, I have become more aware of the issues he faces as an immigrant student in D.C. during the time of the Trump administration. He has told me of his fear of getting deported like his brother, of spending another birthday in a detention center, and his frustration at not being able to understand what his art teacher is assigning. Every day he must face the obstacles of school, his limited English, and the fear of deportation in a city that is new to him.

Angel is just one of thousands of local immigrant students who are affected by the Trump administration's policies. Like Angel, these students are often unable to communicate with their faculty, don’t know their rights, and feel isolated in their school communities. To make D.C. better for these students and their families, they must be supported in and out of school.

Councilmember David Grosso has been a key leader in pushing for legislation supporting immigrant students and their families. In 2015, Grosso introduced the Language Access for Education Act, and reintroduced it in 2017, to increase the standards of language access for all education and government services for D.C. residents without proficiency in English. It would require all schools to have translations of all essential information, which would be key for enabling immigrant families to be involved in their school communities. This act would help immigrant students and their families to communicate with their schools and would create interactions between students and faculty that would lead to greater success for immigrant students in school.

The success of immigrant students heavily relies upon them feeling safe in their academic and local environments. These learners should be able to focus on school and not worry about their immigration status and the status of their family members. To protect these immigrants and help keep peace of mind, Councilmembers Grosso, Jack Evans, and Brianne Nadeau introduced the One License for One DC Amendment Act of 2017. This act would make all IDs produced by the DMV look identical, regardless of immigration status. This would prevent ICE agents from using government-issued IDs as a means of targeting undocumented immigrants. By having one less fear, immigrant students can focus more on school and pursue their academic dreams.

The Access to Justice for Immigrants Amendment Act of 2017 is another extremely important bill, currently under Council consideration.  This bill will help to further defend the rights of immigrants, by supporting nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance to low-income residents as well as civil immigration legal services.  With the passage of this bill, the District will have more lawyers capable of protecting the rights of all residents.

At the Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC), announcements are made about ICE raids to ensure that students are aware of safe routes home after school. Staff members at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School have posted papers of what to do when approached by an ICE agent and the DCPS policies regarding ICE raids. An annual resource fair for non-English speaking students is held at CHEC to help all D.C. students find the resources they need. DCPS has also released statements of their policies to ensure students know their rights and access their education. The actions taken by these schools have supported immigrant students and has made their school communities safer.

The D.C. Council has promised to “defend the safety, dignity, and liberty of all our residents.” While they have passed a lot of legislation that helps immigrant students feel safe, protected, and aware of their rights, our city still has a long way to go to guarantee this during the Trump era. It is necessary to promote diversity and cross-cultural interactions in our schools and our city, help immigrant students and their families feel safe, make sure all D.C. residents know their rights, and create a greater sense of community.

School staff should be encouraged to be bilingual and our city should attempt to campaign for more people to learn another language. All messages (phone calls, emails, etc.) sent out by D.C. schools, not just essential information, should be sent out with translations to help immigrant families of young learners have a better understanding of their school community.  Monthly legal meetings should be held at all schools so immigrants can know their rights and feel safer in their communities. School staff should obtain basic legal training to be able to educate immigrant students and their families. These changes help support immigrant students and their families and will make D.C. a better city for all residents.

As a sanctuary city, D.C. is a community for all. For Angel and the thousands of immigrant student like him, D.C. is their new home. To resist the divisive policies and rhetoric introduced by the Trump administration such as the “Muslim Ban” and the “border wall”, the District of Columbia must support immigrants in every way possible. Helping immigrant students become a part of our city’s community is necessary to make our city, and our country, stronger.

*This post is part of an ongoing series of posts by Councilmember Grosso’s staff to support professional development. All posts are approved and endorsed by Councilmember Grosso. Eli Moraru is an intern with the Office of Councilmember Grosso and a rising senior at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School.*



One License For One D.C. Amendment Act of 2017

One License For One D.C. Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: February 21, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Jack Evans and Brianne Nadeau

Summary: To amend the District of Columbia Traffic Act, 1925 to eliminate the distinguishing features of the limited purpose driver’s license.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

Today, along with Councilmembers Nadeau, and Evans, I am introducing the One License for One D.C. Amendment Act of 2017.

During my first year on this Council, we passed important legislation to allow residents of our city who do not have legal immigration status to get driver’s licenses and identity cards.

We passed that bill both to improve safety on our roads and to ensure more equitable access to IDs, which have become so critical to daily life in our day and age.

While I supported the goal of that legislation, unfortunately I could not agree with the provision that required all licenses and non-driver’s ID cards issued to undocumented immigrants be marked differently than the credentials issued to everyone else in the city.

I argued at the time against having a different license or ID for undocumented immigrants because it would make them an easy target for federal authorities.

We have seen the indiscriminate disregard for human dignity and due process in immigration enforcement, most recently last week when federal agents in Texas arrested a domestic violence victim while at court seeking a protection order, and ICE officers rounded up men at a church homeless shelter in Virginia.

The Washington Post reported this weekend on draft versions of new executive orders being prepared at the White House to dramatically expand raids, deportations and other enforcement actions.

Based on the aggressive stance this administration has taken against human rights, we can expect federal officials will take advantage of the fact that undocumented immigrants in our community can be identified by a phrase on their licenses.

A document issued by our local government will be used by federal officials to arrest, detain and deport our residents, tearing apart families and wrecking communities.

The One License for One D.C. Amendment Act seeks to prevent this scenario from playing out by removing the distinguishing phrase “not valid for official federal purposes” from the limited purpose driver’s license and ensuring that licenses and ID cards issued by the D.C. government look the same no matter your immigration status.

It is a very simple change that will have far-reaching effects, strengthening our stance as a sanctuary city and depriving the federal government of a method for targeting undocumented immigrants.

It will likely mean that D.C. will need to no longer comply with the REAL ID law, or seek an extension on compliance from the federal government, as about half of other states and territories have done.

As a sanctuary city, we should be doing everything we can to protect the human rights of our community members, not put them at greatest risk of harm.

I hope to count on my colleagues support for this and invite co-sponsors.



D.C. recommits to human rights as new president takes office

On Tuesday I stood with Councilmember Robert White to announce to our residents and the new administration that the District of Columbia will continue to be a bastion of human rights and work to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Like many residents, I have been anxious since November. Throughout last year’s presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised policies that many brushed off as simple campaign rhetoric. In just the first few days of his presidency, he has confirmed that the bigotry, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia he espoused will guide his policymaking. 

We as elected leaders must stand up on behalf of our residents.  That’s why Councilmember White and I introduced the Sense of the Council Resolution in Reaffirmation of the Human Rights of District of Columbia Residents and in Opposition to Bigotry and Violence.  This document sets forth the entire Council’s opposition to many of the policies that were promised by Donald Trump.  And more importantly, that the Council of the District of Columbia will resist them.

As a Council, we resolved to:

  • reject xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, disparagement of people with disabilities, misogyny, and bigotry in any form.
  • not cooperate with any effort to force individuals to register with the government based on their national origin or religious identity.
  • remain committed to our status as a sanctuary city and not participate in any federal immigration enforcement strategies that endanger those within our city.
  • welcome refugees and those fleeing violence and persecution.

The Council spoke with a unified voice.  Every member of the Council signed on as a co-introducer of these principles, which will now be sent to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

I also applaud Mayor Muriel Bowser’s efforts to reaffirm our sanctuary city status and set up the Immigrant Justice Legal Services Grant Program.  Increasing access to attorneys for our immigrant neighbors will dramatically increase positive outcomes for them in immigration court.

More needs to be done. That same day I introduced two bills to make D.C. an even more welcoming city by providing immigrants greater access to our educational and electoral institutions.

I doubt that these recent announcements from the White House will be the last to threaten the well-being of residents of the District of Columbia. I commit to looking at every single way we can continue to protect our residents from the aggressions of the new administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. Engaging with your local officials, including myself, and our staff will be integral to this effort.  I welcome and encourage your feedback.

We must stand together as a city.  Protecting our human rights cannot be done alone.  It must be the charge of all of our elected leaders and all of our residents. We must fight for each other. We must work for the most vulnerable among us. We must lift each other up. And we must love one another.

Read the full resolution adopted by the Council below: