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Syrian-Born NJ Mayor: Montvale Will Not Be A Sanctuary City

MONTVALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) --  A Syrian immigrant mayor says his New Jersey town will not be a sanctuary city for immigrants illegally living in the United States.

Montvale Mayor Michael Ghassali posted on Facebook that a mayor should not advocate defying federal laws and he will not sign any executive orders asking the town's employees to do so.

The Republican mayor said he took an oath to uphold the law.

"It's not my call to make the law or change or defy and then tell our employees to do the same," Ghassali told WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron.

Ghassali said it is not easy, but he said he has to take the emotions out of it.

"I know exactly what they go through, but it's not my job to say 'look you can come to my town, it's a sanctuary city for you,'" Ghassali said.

"If I could do that, what's stopping the mayor from issuing or declaring your city to be a sanctuary city for drug users?" he added.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that any immigrant in the country illegally who is charged with or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an immigration enforcement priority.

Ghassali left Syria in 1980 and just last May, had friends and family members go through the process. Ghassali became a citizen in 1987 and is married to an Iraqi immigrant.

Ghassali said on Facebook he will be at Borough Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. to discuss the issue.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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