Orlando becomes among first cities in southeast to pass immigration status protection act

Fair Treatment of All Trust act prevents profiling based on citizenship

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City commissioners voted unanimously to pass a city policy Monday afternoon designed to prevent profiling of someone based on citizenship.

Orlando, a city that celebrates its quickly growing diversity, is among the first in the southeast to pass an ordinance like the Fair Treatment of All Trust Act policy, also known as the Trust Act.

The policy states that no city official, including law enforcement and emergency response teams, can ask about a person's immigration status. Orlando city commissioners plan to offer U-Visas to protect immigrants who are victims of crimes.

Ahead of the vote, representatives from Muslim Women's Organization, Mi Familia Vota and more than 38 other groups spoke on behalf of thousands of Orlando residents they say will be protected by the policy. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer also spoke alongside the immigrant-rights groups.

[RELATED: Here's how a new policy would not make Orlando a 'sanctuary city']

Ahtziry Barrera, a Rollins College Student, was born in Mexico. She said the Trust Act vote is a win and signals more inclusion and fairness in Orlando.

"I’ve been here in Orlando since I was 4-years-old. This is my home," Barrera said. "It’s a historic day today. Really building the trust with the community and our city."

Barrera said that, more than inclusion, the policy enables community members to feel confident they can report crimes against them to law enforcement without repercussions.

There were no counterprotesters of the Trust Act ahead of the vote Monday. However, teachers, many of whose students include immigrant children, were among supporters of the policy.

"These are children, they were brought here by their families, not their own choice and they live in fear every day," said Jill Hakemian, an Orlando teacher.

Orlando officials have stressed that a potential new policy that would prohibit city officials from asking anyone about their immigration status will not mean Orlando is a "sanctuary city."

Orlando Police Department Chief John Mina said the OPD has already been abiding by these guidelines under its own internal policy.

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