It's no coincidence that the incidence of harassment and crimes targeting vulnerable populations nationwide has soared over the last year with the rise of a presidential candidate who made a toxic practice of ridiculing and vilifying "the other" -- Mexicans and Muslims, for example, and the disabled. The degradation of civility and respectful behavior in our society has been furthered as well by the antagonism and threats against immigrants and their children who, after months of anti-immigrant tirades by the man now heading for the White House, are understandably fearful and uncertain about their future.
Many of these people are longstanding -- and upstanding -- members of our communities, but as the number of hate crimes continues to rise, they feel menaced not only by individuals emboldened by Donald Trump's shameful rhetoric but by the future administration's threatened policies targeting immigrants and the country's Muslim community.
During these times of uncertainty and instability, some local citizens and public officials are looking for ways to protect our communities from a possible mass deportation of undocumented residents and a potential mandate for the registration of Muslims.
One proposal comes from City Councilman Ray Mueller, who wrote a draft ordinance that would prohibit the use of city resources, including police assistance, in any government effort to create a registry or database of U.S. citizens intended to identify people "solely on the basis of their religious beliefs, and/or race, and/or nation of descent." The ordinance would also ban the use of city resources in any government agency's program of "detention, relocation, or internment" of citizens -- an obvious response to a prominent Trump supporter's citing of the World War II Japanese internment camps as a precedent for dealing with immigrants from "high-risk countries."
The City Council has agreed to consider such an ordinance, and Mr. Mueller is working with the city attorney to fine-tune the language. This is an appropriate and necessary local response to what might quickly become a nationwide crisis. Putting as many local protections in place as possible now is the right thing to do.
Other residents are also looking at ways to "think globally and act locally," discussing possible strategies to protect members of our communities from misguided policies threatened by the incoming president's team. A group in the Willows neighborhood met recently to brainstorm ideas to propose to the City Council, including making Menlo Park a "sanctuary city" to offer a range of protections to undocumented immigrants.
Residents who don't live under the direct threat of increased scrutiny and deportation, but who are searching for ways to protect fellow community members now living under a cloud of fear, are showing the compassion and courage that will be increasingly necessary in our society to protect those vulnerable groups most likely to be targeted by the incoming administration.