Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali meets with citizens after posting controversial sanctuary city comments

Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali made a controversial post about sanctuary cities on Facebook. He held a public forum Tuesday to discuss concerns with his residents.

Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali made a controversial post about sanctuary cities on Facebook. He held a public forum Tuesday to discuss concerns with his residents. (2/28/17)

MONTVALE - The mayor of a Bergen County town who came under fire for comments he made about sanctuary cities held a public forum with his residents in an attempt to explain himself.

Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali, a Syrian immigrant himself, came under fire earlier this month when he posted on Facebook that he would not make Montvale a sanctuary city and did not think it was a mayor’s right to defy federal law.

“I wasn't looking for support or against,” Ghassali says. “I was looking to make a statement that Montvale won’t be a sanctuary city as long as I’m mayor.”

A sanctuary city is a city that does not use municipal resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Mayors in several other New Jersey municipalities have issued executive orders declaring their towns a sanctuary city.

Ghassali’s comments were met with some scorn and criticism from immigration advocates and Montvale residents.

“I think it came off as a little hostile for people who are refugees, those who aren't legally sanctioned,” says Montvale resident Dr. Sairah Qureshi. “It comes off that, ‘OK we’re not wanted.”

The mayor held a public forum Tuesday evening at Borough Hall so that he could speak to residents and hear their concerns. The mayor also made plans to take action.

“It looks like we’re going to work on statements that really help to welcome people and make sure people know that they are important to our community,” says Councilwoman Elizabeth Gloeggler.

Montvale has a diverse community base. According to another Facebook post made by Ghassali, the 4-square-mile town has 9,500 residents representing 33 different countries. The mayor says 22 different languages are spoken in town.

The meeting was held before the borough’s regular monthly council meeting.

More on this topic

Border Security Proposal Memo

Read the memo

President Trump's Executive Orders

President Donald Trump signed two exectutive orders about security on Jan. 25, 2017.

Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

St. Joseph High School student Matthew Hall visited 1 Teen battling cancer thanks medical team as he prepares to attend prom
News 12 New Jersey - Weather On The 2 New Jersey Weather Forecast
A possible protest is taking shape among transit 3 Commuters threaten possible 'No Pay May' protest on NJ Transit
Some New Jersey Transit riders have vowed not 4 NJ Transit riders vow not to pay fares in protest
The owner of Jewelry Expo in Union Township 5 Sleight-of-hand thieves steal $10K worth of jewelry

advertisement | advertise on News 12

More News

Union City to launch municipal ID program against Union City to launch municipal ID program for residents

Union City officials say they will defy President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown by announcing a

New Jersey lawmakers held a hearing on immigration. Anxieties ratchet up after Trump immigration crackdown

Lawmakers, activists and immigrants say the Trump administration's new crackdown on those who illegally crossed

A group of protesters were arrested outside the Protest rally held outside Elizabeth immigration detention center

A small group of demonstrators has been arrested while protesting outside an immigration detention center

The Elizabeth mayor says police officers won't help Mayor: Elizabeth PD won’t help ICE agents without judicial warrant

The mayor of Elizabeth says that the city’s police officers will no longer help Immigration

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.