In its first meeting of the new year, the State College Borough Council wasted no time in diving head-first into the immigration controversy.
The council, which met Monday evening, unanimously passed Resolution 1176, “condemning Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia in rhetoric and action, restating the borough’s commitment to serving all people.”
The resolution makes clear while immigration enforcement is a national issue, the council "will not voluntarily assist in any effort by the federal government to apprehend, detain, or deport community members."
It was adopted on December 5, 2016, shortly after the election of President-elect Donald J. Trump.
After the resolution was introduced, the council allowed community members to voice their opinions on the matter. Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, a Penn State Law faculty member and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights, expressed her support for the resolution.
“This resolution is ultimately about people," Wadhia said. "Immigrants are a part of us. They live in our community. Every person deserves to be treated equally and feel safe in our community.”
Following Wadhia’s remarks, Peter Morris likewise spoke in favor of the resolution. Morris, who lives in State College, particularly appreciated the council members’ courage during “difficult times.”
Prior to the unanimous vote on the resolution, members of the council spoke about its importance to the State College community in contrast with historical injustices.
Councilwoman Theresa Lafer noted the history of minorities being mistreated throughout history, from “the internment of the Japanese, to the mistreatment of Jews during World War II.”
The council voted 5-0 in favor of the resolution with councilman David Brown and council president Thomas Daubert absent from the meeting.
In addition to the immigration resolution, Greg Ray gave an update concerning State Theatre.
Ray, the theater’s executive director, first explained its history. In 1938, State Theatre was opened as a movie theater. It was reopened as a performing arts center in December 2006.
Ray explained some repairs that were recently completed, including a large hole that formed in the theater’s roof, allowing pigeons into the building to eat the rubber roof.
State Theatre’s mission is “community discussion plus entertainment.” Ray said his goal is to diversify the acts to appeal to a wide range of people in the area.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said places like State Theater are crucial to a thriving community.
“Cultural amenities are crucial to the community,” Goreham said.