Editor, Townsman:

John Thompson, the Boston-based consultant whose column Nothing safe about the Safe Communities Act was published in the Dec. 19 edition of the Townsman, is entitled to his opinion. I write to provide facts about the Safe Communities Act.

The key purpose of the act is to restore community trust in police by avoiding entanglement in immigration matters, and to protect due process for all. The act would bar law enforcement and court personnel from asking people about their status unless required by law, and instead focus resources to fight crime, not separate families. This practice is especially important to advocates and medical providers working with domestic violence survivors, who seek assurance that they can safely encourage immigrant survivors to report abuse to the police. State police already have a similar policy. Contrary to Thompson’s understanding, the provision would not prevent police departments from keeping our community safe from criminal activity; it would send a strong message that in our commonwealth, police protect us all.

Immigrants make our commonwealth richer economically and through contributions to education, industry and society. It is unclear what Thompson’s ties are to the Merrimack Valley and to Andover in particular. It is clear what kind of immigrant reform he backs, as shown by his mischaracterization of the Safe Communities Act. I hope the Townsman will use the opinion page to instead publish the voices of our local residents.

DEB OLANDER

Andover

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