Lowell and Immigrants
By Mimi Parseghian
With the election of Donald Trump and the threat of withholding federal funds to states and cities that do not “cooperate,” the issue of “sanctuary cities” has come to the forefront.
The words are a misnomer; sanctuary city is a not a legal term. Therefore, how it is defined and how it is implemented varies from city to city. Some have passed ordinances, others resolutions, and others have stated their support or objection. The term has been coopted and I wish there was another term for this action.
I am suggesting that we in Lowell begin to have a civil conversation, without shouting, name calling, fear mongering and worse of all, not listening. We would have a public discussion to determine if we want our municipal resources to focus on undocumented residents and visitors.
Often, those who want to punish the “sanctuary cities” distort the intentions and use fear and skewed data to make their point. I am not ready to suggest that Lowell declares itself a sanctuary city as hundreds of other cities and counties have done throughout the United States, but I would like us to talk about it. I do not know if the Lowell Police Department has a policy in this regard. I have tried to find out, but my resources are limited.
Could there be a number of people who live in our community who may have expired visitor or student visas? Perhaps! I do not know. I have never asked nor have I been told. We are a Gateway City with over 25% of our population born in other countries. That is over 25,000 people. And if you include the first generation Americans, you may have over 33% of our population living in an immigrant family.
And as far as cutting off funding is concerned, we should take some comfort in Governor Charlie Bakers’ comments “… I think decisions about how communities want to manage their public safety issues and their community issues belong to them, and they should make whatever decisions are in the best interests of their communities.”
Additionally, last spring the House voted down an amendment that would withhold local aid from any cities or towns that do not enforce federal immigration laws. All three of our State Representatives voted against that amendment.
Given the aggressive anti-immigration 10 point plan laid out by President-elect Trump, we need to make sure that we as a City are part of the conversation and decision making rather than the recipients of marching orders.