Editor, Townsman:

This letter is in response to Mr. John Thompson’s Dec. 19, 2019, OpEd in the Townsman. I found it to promote an inflammatory and alarmist position, while unjustly generalizing undocumented residents as illegal alien criminals.

The words “Sanctuary City” do not appear in The Safe Communities Act, (S.1401 and H.3573), making Mr. Thompson’s claim that this legislation “would turn every municipality in Massachusetts into a 'sanctuary city' for illegal alien criminals” without merit. The legislation has been cosponsored by 96 legislators from the Massachusetts Senate and House. It is incongruous to think that legislators we elected, because of their values and their commitment to represent our values, have as their main objective, to “turn every Massachusetts municipality into a 'sanctuary city' for illegal alien criminals.” This legislation has been endorsed by nearly 150 state, regional and local community organizations including many faith, health care and legal services organizations, educational institutions, unions, asylum and immigration rights groups. A list of these well-known and respected organizations is here: http://miracoalition.org/images/Documents/SCA-2019-endorsing-organizations.pdf.

The Safe Communities Act protects community relations with law enforcement, by removing the possibility that a resident’s immigration status can be questioned, when they report a crime. If residents can report crimes without fear of immigration consequences, unrelated to that report, we are all safer.

The Safe Communities Act also ensures that immigration enforcement officials adhere to due process, by means of an informed consent form that explains the purpose and potential outcomes of an immigration enforcement interview, and makes clear that an attorney can be present.

The Safe Communities Act provides guidelines for the release of information about a resident’s pending release from state or local custody. It will also provide training for law enforcement about this act.

Lastly, The Safe Communities Act frees local law enforcement to focus on the needs of our own communities, rather than act as an extension of immigration enforcement, which is the responsibility of the federal government.

In the current climate, each of us is responsible for going a little deeper than the sound bites, to find the information needed to make an informed decision about an issue. It is no longer difficult or time consuming to research and verify information through several sources. And while we are all entitled to an opinion, my hope is that the presentation of opinions will conform to the norms of civil discourse and extend respect to everyone.

DIANE RIEMER

Andover

 

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