Both Chapel Hill and Carrboro apply for federal grants each year that could allow the towns to expand, create and make life better for residents. But after Trump signed an executive order limiting federal money that sanctuary cities are eligible for, it left questions of which cities and towns those are.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said Chapel Hill is still eligible to apply for federal grants, because it isn’t technically a registered sanctuary city. She said instead, the town has a community value that includes inclusivity.
“As far as I know, we’re not applying for grants that require you to not have a policy or to have a policy,” she said. “So we don’t have that written policy. We have, like I said, it as a community value. I’m not concerned about that. We are concerned about other cutbacks and things.”
Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions that limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents. Such cities are registered with the Center of Immigration Studies. Registered cities include Boston, New York City, New Orleans and Chicago among others.
Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said there are no sanctuary cities in North Carolina, because the state has outlawed them in all cities, counties and districts.
“In North Carolina, we don’t even have the authority to do it,” she said. “But we’re trying to do what we can within the strange bounds of the law in North Carolina, but reassure our citizens and our residents that they don’t have anything to fear from that end from the town of Carrboro.”
Lavelle said the town operates similarly to Chapel Hill in that it’s welcoming to everyone from all backgrounds, but even so, it’s not a sanctuary city. Lavelle added that if an outside group comes to Carrboro and threatens to pull funding based on “sanctuary city” status, she would ask them to show what ordinance or law makes Carrboro a technical “sanctuary city.”
Hemminger said within Chapel Hill and Carrboro, she and other community leaders will continue to work to remain welcoming.
“Communities get to choose how they enforce things, and how they create things,” she said. “If you are applying for federal monies, that can come into play. But we don’t have a policy that’s anti or for, we just have a community value that says, ‘Yes, we’re open to everyone.’”