My Turn: Safe Community movement just an excuse for breaking the law


Monday, November 20, 2017

Conway held a special town meeting on Oct. 30 to consider a number of articles including a resident sponsored “Safe Community” article.

The movement to protect illegal aliens from law enforcement is implemented primarily in large, urban centers with large illegal alien populations and generous social programs that have lax voter registration standards and are led by liberal politicians. The simple reason for the promotion of this movement is because self-serving, liberal politicians want to pander to illegals to get their votes.

Sanctuary problems

California, the state most ravaged by the inflow of illegal aliens and home to an estimated 27 percent of America’s 11.1 million illegal aliens, can no longer afford the $30 billion per year, almost 18 percent of its budget, to support them. Almost two-thirds of California voters believe that illegal immigration is a major problem, with 23 percent calling it a crisis. And to make things worse, the governor recently signed “sanctuary state” legislation that will take effect on Jan. 1. California recently requested $100 billion from the federal government, your tax dollars, to start repairing their crumbling infrastructure because California does not have the money.

Criminal aliens are a growing threat to public safety and national security, as well as a drain on our scarce criminal justice resources. In 1980, our federal and state prisons housed fewer than 9,000 criminal aliens. Today, about 55,000 criminal aliens account for more than one-fourth of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities, and there are about 297,000 criminal aliens incarcerated in state and local prisons. That number represents about 16.4 percent of the state and local prison population compared to the 12.9 percent of the total population comprised of foreign-born residents.

The law

Municipal officials take an oath of office when they are sworn in for their positions to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and obey the law at the federal, state and local levels.

U.S. code states that a “local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (predecessor of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)) information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

There are criminal penalties under that code, 8 U.S. Code 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii), that states, “Any person who knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of the law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or means of transportation, shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than five years, or both, for each alien in respect to whom any violation of this subsection occurs.” Under 18 U.S. Code 1371(b), anyone found guilty of a violation of the forementioned code can be fined up to $250,000 ($500,000 for an organization, such as a town).

So, municipal officials and law enforcement personnel employed by the Town of Conway, or anyone else, and the town itself could face substantial penalties for violation of federal immigration laws.

Conway is already a safe community for its citizens

The promoter of the “Safe Community” movement for Conway stated in a Recorder article on Oct. 29 that “Support(er)s of the bylaw feel that approval will make an important statement of solidarity with other ‘safe communities’ in Western Massachusetts that strive to maintain an environment of trust and cooperation between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement.”

First of all, let us use the correct terminology. Anyone who has broken the law to enter the United States is an illegal alien, not an “undocumented immigrant” or “undocumented worker.” Liberals always seek to use euphemisms to make their narrative more palatable. Phrases like “make an important statement of solidarity” and “strive to maintain an environment of trust and cooperation” lead the cheer of the false narrative to provide illegal aliens with a pass for breaking the law.

As chairman of the Board of Selectmen, my primary concern, and that of the whole board, is the safety and welfare of the citizens of Conway. I am, of course, always interested in the safety of all people, legal or illegal. However, I am not going to take a position that favors illegal aliens over the citizens of Conway. By not reporting an illegal alien, who could be a criminal, gang member, drug dealer, terrorist, etc., to proper authority, we would be potentially endangering the safety of our own citizens.

It is a privilege to be a citizen of the United States. America has the most generous immigration policy in the world and path to citizenship. Those most outspoken about our illegal alien problem are the legal immigrants who have followed the law to become naturalized citizens of the United States.

The “Safe Community” proposal for Conway is a “feel good” initiative of a certain group that defies rational thinking, makes no sense and conflicts with federal law. I would oppose any initiative that holds Conway out as a “safe place” for illegal aliens and grants privileges to illegal aliens that are inconsistent with ensuring the safety of the citizens of Conway.

John P. O’Rourke is the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Conway; the Chair of the Council of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG); and is on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) representing District.