SAN Francisco will always be a 'sanctuary city' for immigrant families because of its connection to Cork, according to Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee.
Mayor Lee made the statement in an interview with the Evening Echo as he departed Cork after the UNESCO Learning Cities Conference this week.
“I think the contributions of immigrant families is the story of the connection between Cork and San Francisco and because of that we will always be a sanctuary city,” Mayor Lee said.
“That’s just part of our DNA and who we are and what made us.”
Sanctuary cities are cities in the United States that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement action.
They have come under fire from President Donald Trump who has threatened to cut funding to cities that do not enforce action on immigration.
There are currently an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants living in the United States.
Mayor Lee added:
“I think being a sanctuary city for me is a recognition of years of immigrants coming to our city and helping to build it, including the O'Shaughnessys way back in the early 1900s who helped us build one of the most world famous reservoirs, waterways and water systems for our city.”
"Our cities are built from immigration so naturally those who are fleeing war-torn countries or economic oppression will see San Francisco and other places as a sanctuary.
"So, yes, political wheels nationally and in other states may cause some stir and clearly there are some words from the federal government that they don’t want to see them happening.
"At the same time, I believe that the majority (of immigrants) are hard-working people, who want a better life and if we want to get rid of those who commit crime then let’s focus on those people rather than label everyone in a negative way. I think that’s the whole difference.
"Sanctuary is not about criminals, sanctuary is about people and this is why the people of San Francisco and the people of Cork as well are so strong because we recognise a mutual history of migration and immigration and why people have come both ways.”
"Obviously, when the huge Great Famine hit Ireland and the big financial crisis, a lot of people came to the United States but they contributed, they contributed like the O’Shaugnessys, like so many others who built our systems (or) helped us run our police and fire departments.”
The English Market signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, this week, an agreement Major Lee described as a very significant development between the two Sister Cities.
“One of our aims of this trip was to look at the business of food, the sourcing of food, the handling, the economics so we signed a very significant memorandum of understanding between our two cities. I expect, and I think the Lord Mayor Fitzgerald would expect, that on the shelves of both Ferry Building and in the English Market that there will be quite a display of Irish products from cheeses to biscuits, a lot of organic goods and we expect the same thing with some San Franciscan products in the English Market. "
"This exchange of food will not only allow people to taste the flavours but understand the sourcing.
“I was able to drive down from Dublin to Cork in a van my first day and we saw the farms just a few miles of Cork.
I had a great time eating a lot of wonderful food on this trip! We’d love to have the kind of dairy products you have, especially the butter, that’s world famous. My wife and I also particularly liked the organic eggs.”