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Michael Moses, Publisher

Safer for whom?

Published: 9/13/2019 10:03:26 AM
Modified: 9/13/2019 10:03:14 AM

Mayor William Martin’s disappointing veto of the safe city ordinance, and his explanations regarding his decision, conveys something I have witnessed all too often in the two decades I’ve spent so far in the United States: the failure of a privileged member of American society to grasp the totality of the immigrant struggle.

Having recently become a naturalized U.S. citizen, and being the recipient of many a “Why don’t you just become a citizen?” question, it’s clear that not every American understands what is demanded of immigrants. It’s not like applying for a phone plan; plus, there aren’t groups of people actively trying to prevent me from applying for it, while paradoxically asking me why I haven’t bought a phone yet.

The capricious nature of U.S. immigration law fills immigrants with a daily sense of dread, as it is always poised to clamp down at the slightest sign of doubt. Imagine having a language barrier and fleeing your home with just the clothes on your back – you’re not calmly getting your affairs in order in preparation for the slow wheels of bureaucracy. Federal law takes even longer to influence for change.

What is the harm in providing a safe space for immigrants while they try to go through a legal process that even I found daunting and a multi-year ordeal, despite my relative advantages? I see very few immigrants taking advantage of our community meals due to fear of being exposed to immigration watchdogs. Shouldn’t the “safety” of our city extend to any of these people? Or does it only apply to the socio-economic peers of William Martin and sympathetic city councilors?



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