City council hears calls to make Winston-Salem a sanctuary city

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Residents stood before city council members Tuesday asking city leaders to make Winston-Salem a sanctuary city for immigrants without proper documentation.

"We're not criminals," resident Valeria Rodriguez said.

“Would you look at me and say that I'm somebody that is undeserving to live in this community?" asked resident Jennifer Castillo at the meeting.

A sanctuary city is commonly known as a city where local government limits how much it helps federal immigration agencies.

About a dozen people spoke at the meeting.

Many of them shared their fears along with personal stories of how they've been affected by raids and deportations.

Many who spoke say those fears have been heightened by the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who vowed to crack down on illegal immigration.

“My dad was shipped off to Mexico,” Castillo said. “My mother struggled to keep our house and our business.”

"My family, like many other migrant families, doesn't deserve to live in fear every day," Rodriguez said.

At least one resident spoke out against making Winston-Salem a sanctuary city.

“This is not about discriminating against anybody,” said one resident. “All of us live in this city and we all want to be fair to every single person. But this is about following the law."

In 2015, the General Assembly passed legislation forbidding the adoption of sanctuary cities in the state.

City Councilman Derwin Montgomery briefly discussed the issue.

"There are people on both sides,” Montgomery said. “But again it's a thing that we have to have a conversation about.”