Varying opinions on sanctuary cities

Friday, December 22, 2017

I would like to respond to Mr. Bringham’s well-written and thoughtful letter regarding sanctuary cities in Massachusetts.

While I believe we would both agree that the issues of illegal immigration and our dysfunctional immigration system are in desperate need of reform, I do take exception with several of his points. The primary rationale behind the concept is to prevent local authorities from detaining anyone based on their immigration status unless they have a criminal warrant. Thus, local authorities often refuse requests by federal immigration authorities (ICE) to detain people beyond their release date, if they were jailed for breaking local law. Cities such as Boston, Cambridge and Springfield have passed local ordinances codifying this position.

Legal opinions vary on whether immigration enforcement by local police is constitutional. Regardless, referring to people who support the concept of sanctuary cities as being seditious seems a bit hyperbolic. I also think conjuring the image of a world teeming with “disaffected malcontents (read illegal immigrants) hell-bent on destroying everything American” strikes me as fear mongering and is not supported by the evidence.

In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill by a vote of 68-32, where it then went to the GOP-controlled House to die a death by neglect. Our federal government has failed in addressing this critical issue. After all, it’s easier to demagogue and fear-monger an issue for partisan advantage that to actually address the complex issues than comprehensive immigration reform demand.

Steve Sutherland