Charlottesville mayor discusses city being a 'Capital of the Resistance'

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) -- UPDATE (Jan. 31):

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer has proclaimed the city a capital of resistance and vowed to provide assistance to immigrants who need visa help.

Signer made the remarks Tuesday at a rally at Downtown Mall. Civic and community leaders also spoke at the event, as did Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier died in combat in Iraq.

Signer says he is considering making Charlottesville a sanctuary city and is looking into ways to add protections for immigrants and political refugees.

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Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer intends to declare the city a "Capital of the Resistance" in the wake of President Donald Trump's first week in office and following an executive order on immigration.

"This whole event came about after Saturday, just a couple days ago now," Signer said in an exclusive interview with WHSV's sister station, WCAV. "I spent a couple hours with several dozen political refugees who live in Charlottesville and they expressed just heart-wrenching fear, confusion about what these executive orders mean for them and their families."

In response, Signer says he decided he and the city he represents should stand up against what he believes is violent treatment by the Trump Administration.

This is where his idea of becoming a Capital of the Resistance came from.

Signer listed several personal initiatives he will work on, including demanding answers from Virginia's Congressional Delegation regarding Charlottesville's immigration community, joining the Cities for Action coalition of mayors demanding progress on immigration issues and asking Charlottesville's City Manager to advise the Charlottesville City Council on becoming a Sanctuary City.

"This question of a Sanctuary City, I don't know whether that's the right idea for Charlottesville," Signer admitted. "But I certainly want professional guidance from our staff on how we should be thinking about that question and what else we can do to help these folks."

Becoming a Sanctuary City would be a strong stance for Charlottesville, especially because President Trump has threatened to cut federal funding for cities that maintain the sanctuary status.

Harrisonburg, on the other hand, already settles hundreds of refugees a year. Behind northern Virginia, Harrisonburg hosts the highest number of refugees in the Commonwealth.

Signer says he is aware of the risk under the new administration, but says it is a risk worth taking.

"I am well aware that for myself and others, there could be dangers that will come with this, but I think it's too important. I think it's too important to stand up for American values," he said. "This is the bedrock of this country. It's on the Statue of Liberty. So if you can't stand up for that, what can you stand for?"

Tuesday's press conference will be held at noon in front of City Hall. Speakers will include Khizr Khan, Pam Northam and several other community leaders in Charlottesville.

Both the abbreviated and raw interviews are attached to this web story.