DES MOINES, Iowa -- The City of Des Moines issued a proclamation on Monday afternoon in an attempt to demonstrate its commitment to "fostering compassion, diversity, tolerance and inclusivity to all in an ever-changing world."
City officials tried to send a message to all residents that they should feel good and comfortable in Des Moines, but immigration activists in the room said the proclamation was not enough.
"I'm standing here baffled as to why you all would propose a proclamation after we presented you with a resolution that had clear action steps for the city to take," said Madeline Cano, organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. "The proclamation is an empty promise."
Mayor T. M. Franklin Cownie said city officials have had many discussions with community members to try and find a way to ensure them that they are safe.
"This is a place to prosper, a place to grow, a place to raise a family, have a business, and people to feel safe, no matter who they are or whatever their country of origin is or any other status," said Cownie.
That's why he's not sure what accounts for the disconnect between the intent behind the proclamation, and the way in which it was received by immigration activists.
"You know, I really don't know," said Cownie. "I think that some people feel like that they had worked on some wording of their own creation, and the fact that we didn't do exactly whatever that was."
Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert says his department is committed to keeping everyone in the community safe, and he wants immigrants to know that if they are the victim of a crime or if they witness a crime and they're afraid to call the police, they shouldn't be, because their immigration status is not relevant.
"Immigration enforcement is a function of the federal government," said Chief Wingert. "Not only do we not have access to a lot of that information, we don't have the time or personnel resources to do immigration work. We've never done immigration work in the past, and it's not on our list of things to do."