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02/10/2017 06:31 pm ET

Bay Area Floats 'Sanctuary In Transit Policy' To Protect Commuting Immigrants

The proposal calls for limiting collaboration between BART police and federal agencies.

Clearly unfazed by President Donald Trump’s promise to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities,” Bay Area Rapid Transit will consider adopting a “sanctuary in transit policy” to protect undocumented immigrants using its public rail system.

The measure calls for limiting collaboration between BART police and federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a press release from BART board member Lateefah Simon

In a statement accompanying the release, Simon, who introduced the measure along with board member Nick Josefowitz, said that all BART riders, regardless of immigrations status, should be able to commute to work without fear of being unduly targeted. 

“Over 500,000 undocumented immigrants have made Bay Area their home,” she said. “Many of these community members use BART to get to their jobs, school, and places of worship in their communities. Local enforcement needs to focus on keeping our communities safe, rather than becoming entangled in federal immigration efforts.”

Joseph DeSantis via Getty Images

The Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley are among cities nationwide to declare themselves “sanctuary cities” and adopt immigrant-friendly policies. Loosely, the term refers to jurisdictions that have chosen to not fully cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts.

Last month, just days into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order in which he threatened to strip sanctuary cities of federal funding to use shaming tactics for those that refuse to assist in deportation efforts. 

“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” Trump’s order declares. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

Immediately, officials in cities like San Francisco and New York said they planned to fight back. As San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (D) put it, “nothing has changed.”

If Thursday’s meeting is any indication, the board may very well be on its way to adopting the transit policy. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, members of the public and several BART directors, including board president Rebecca Saltzman, voiced support for the measure. 

“I can’t tell you how scary it is to just walk down the streets these days,” said Sabiha Basrai, a 34-year-old Muslim immigrant, according to the Chronicle. “It means a lot to me to know that BART is making a clear statement that BART is for all of us and we should ride without fear.”

The board’s motion at Thursday’s meeting directs BART’s Operations & Safety Committee to take up the proposed policy at its next meeting, according to a release. 

In fiscal year 2016, BART received nearly $100 million in federal funds, KQED News reports. 

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