Councilor wants Greenfield to be a safe city


Recorder Staff
Friday, May 19, 2017

GREENFIELD — A town councilor wants to make sure that Greenfield protects its residents regardless of their immigration status, and is giving public a chance to weigh in on her plan for making that happen.

At-Large Town Councilor Karen “Rudy” Renaud has drafted a safe city ordinance with the goal of ensuring that Greenfield remains an open and welcoming community that serves and protects its citizens regardless of their immigration status. The town’s Community Relations and Education Committee will hold a public forum on the proposal during its meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. in the library’s Greenfield Room.

The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the full Town Council on the ordinance.

If approved, the ordinance would prohibit town employees, including police, from initiating an investigation or taking law enforcement action on the basis of immigration status, or from detaining individuals based on a civil immigration detainer request or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement administrative warrant after the individual is eligible for release from local custody.

The proposed ordinance would also prohibit town employees from cooperating with or enforcing any federal program requiring the registration of individuals based on religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age.

“In a time where politicians, including our president, are ignoring decades of tradition and law separating federal immigration authority and local criminal law enforcement, we now need to assert our legal, lawful prerogative to ensure that Greenfield remains safe, that our community policing model remains intact, and that we maintain our aspiration to be a welcoming place,” Renaud said. “Greenfield shouldn’t be a site for the federal government to burden with financial costs and legal liabilities that are not ours to bear.”

She added that the United States was founded by immigrants fleeing oppression, which informs our values as a nation.

“Just because we have a broken immigration system doesn’t mean we should be punishing some of the most vulnerable among us,” she said.

The idea of making Greenfield a “sanctuary city” or “safe city” has been raised before, but never made it to Town Council for a vote. Renaud said neither “sanctuary city” nor “safe city” have legal definitions, so the distinction between them is more in the way they are perceived by politicians and the public.

She said that President Donald Trump’s executive order for “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” threatens funding for “sanctuary jurisdictions,” while saying nothing about “safe cities.”

“Even though a federal judge ruled in April that the threat was unconstitutional, there is still understandable fear about joining a group of cities in direct conflict with the federal government,” she said. “By becoming a ‘safe city,’ Greenfield avoids the politically charged language of ‘sanctuary’ while taking meaningful action to protect the rights and safety of all our citizens.”

Renaud added that the ordinance would not affect the Franklin County Jail, which houses immigrants detained by ICE.