Opponents to Watertown Becoming Sanctuary City Pack Council Meeting

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Charlie Breitrose

Watertown's City Hall.

Charlie Breitrose

Watertown’s Town Hall.

The Council Chamber was standing room only Tuesday night as residents opposed to Watertown becoming a Sanctuary City for undocumented immigrants came out to have their voices heard.

The Town Council meeting came two days after hundreds rallied to support all immigrants and to discuss how Watertown could become a Sanctuary City. Around 50 people filled the room, the vast majority of whom applauded for statements opposing the town taking steps toward becoming a Sanctuary Community.

Resident Dennis Holland said he did not want to see the town become a Sanctuary Community.

“Sanctuary City seems big (in Watertown), but isn’t big to all of us,” Holland said.

He added that he would rather leave it up to Police Chief Michael Lawn and the Watertown Police to decide how to deal with illegal immigrants. Lawn has said he wants people of all immigration statuses to feel comfortable calling police, and officers would not inquire about their status. The Police Department, however, would cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) if they have an arrest warrant in town.

Watertown resident John McDonough, who is a former Marine and a police officer in a Boston area community, read the names of 10 Americans who had been killed by illegal immigrants. McDonough said he believes some were killed by people who were still in the country because they were protected by Sanctuary Communities.

“What other laws should we choose not to enforce?” McDonough said. “It would put the town at risk of losing federal money and put residents in danger.”

He noted that in Colorado a lawmaker has introduced a bill to the Colorado Legislature to the  to allow victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants could sue politicians who pass Sanctuary City ordinances.

Will Clifford said his mother came to the United States to escape the Armenian Genocide, and he supports immigration – if it is done legally.

“We have laws. We are a nation of laws,” Clifford said. “We have law so we don’t have chaos. (Town) Councilors are sworn to uphold the law.”

Councilor Aaron Dushku said he heard from residents that they thought the Sanctuary City ordinance would be discussed Tuesday night, but he said that was just a rumor.

“Sanctuary City is not on the agenda tonight and has not yet been scheduled,” Dushku said, adding that the issue has not even been discussed by the Council.

Dushku recommended residents follow the Town Council agendas so they know when the issue will be discussed. Residents can find the information on the calendar on the Town of Watertown’s website, and they can sign up to receive updates about the Town Council by signing up for email or text alerts through the Notify Me section of the website.

The Council has not yet drafted a Sanctuary City Ordinance, and Councilor Tony Palomba – one of those who organized Sunday’s Watertown Welcome’s Immigrants event – said he is not sure when an ordinance will be brought to the Town Council.

When the ordinance is considered it must have a first reading and then at the second meeting there will be a public hearing, where people can give their opinion, before the Town Council votes.

31 thoughts on “Opponents to Watertown Becoming Sanctuary City Pack Council Meeting

  1. Charlie, I have to clarify something. You wrote that it has not yet been ‘scheduled’. It has not yet even been discussed in a town-sponsored public meeting. Please get that clear. Just because some councilors may be talking to their constituents about something in private emails, meetings or wherever else, doesn’t mean that it is current council business. This keeps getting painted that it is on our agenda and it simply isn’t true. I’m not saying that it will or won’t eventually get proposed by someone but it just hasn’t, yet.
    This has nothing to do with the merits of such an idea, but this is kind of important to get straight because I keep hearing that “things are happening without public knowledge”. All of us councilors work hard to obey state laws on open meetings and public notice so lets be careful about this. No offense or anything. I value your work and reporting on things.

  2. Becoming a sanctuary city would be an insult to my Armenian grandparents who came here legally, leaving behind an autocratic and discriminatory Turkish republic. My grandparents respected the laws of the United States and were proud to be citizens of a country where they could own property, worship in their own church, work honestly, speak their language freely, and cast their vote for elective office. As a boy, I remember my grandfather lauding this country because it had laws and personal accountability. With his primary school education, he understood that laws and respect for the legal process is what guarantees freedom and human dignity. That said, sanctuary cities are for entitled, well to do liberals who have absolutely no concept of what it is like to live without legal representation or the rule of law. This is why they embrace foolishness as being somehow progressive when in fact it is a step towards anarchy and exclusion.

    • Well said. I too came to this country through the proper channels and find it a slap in the face to what my parents, my siblings and many other citizens had to go through There is no reason these folks can’t return to their country and re-enter the US legally, unless of course they have something to hide, which in that case, we don’t want them here to begin with.

      • Do you propose to remove 10 million people from this country, many of whom have been here 15 or 20 years and have kids who are in school and are American citizens? Any concern for breaking up families?
        I think there are two parts to this issue. 1. The past situation which developed during every administration since Eisenhower and permitted the 10 million. 2. The current border situation which has been dramatically improved by the toughening enforcement under the Obama administration, and may still require adjustments. For instance, the number of Latinos leaving the U.S. is now larger than the number coming in.
        The fairness question about people who didn’t come in through normal channels is upsetting. It should not have become an issue, but it has. The problem is that there are millions of real people and families caught in the catch 22 of this situation. I believe that resolving the status of the people already here can’t be a black and white issue: charity is required from all of us so we can agree on a solution. Then immigration can be totally normalized.

        • Hello Shep,

          I’m curious, where are you getting your information from when you claim that more Latinos are leaving America than coming in?

          • John, Here is a source with several pages of detail showing an exodus of 130,000 people between 2009 – 2014. (1 million out, 870,000 in). , Pew Research Center: Hispanic Trends. Nov 19, 2015.

        • Do you gave any idea what it means to be a sanctuary city? Obviously from your reply you have no clue. Speaking as an immigrant that came to this country legally , I know Watertown is a welcoming community. You just have to follow the law and you’ll be fine! No sanctuary needed for those who break the law!

          • while I do not want to give an opinion related with The City known as the Town of Watertown becoming or not becoming a sanctuary city, there is an article by Allen E. Kaye (at page 37) I used to understand the terminology:
            towards the end one can read:
            “No local or state community policing policy prevents ICE from enforcing federal immigration laws. When a law enforcement agency takes a suspect into custody and books him or her, the person’s fingerprints are sent automatically to ICE, which has ample resources to investigate and initiate enforcement actions against noncitizens who fit within the agency’s enforcement priorities.”

  3. “Town Councilor Susan Falkoff said the Town Council has started drafting an ordinance, though she said it would not be ready for Tuesday’s Council meeting.” Quoted From the article highlighted above..”hundreds rally to support all immigrants” unless that was reported wrong it seems some councilors aren’t on the same page or are being two faced …..again.

    Fred..I couldn’t agree more. There are so many of our ancestors that came here LEGALLY and so many more great people waiting to do it the right way it’s an insult to them and the rest of us to even consider protecting criminal acts.

  4. Actually it’s unclear if they will be proposing an Ordinance, a Resolution, or a Proclamation.
    An ordinance would need a first reading, followed by a public hearing. And that is the most problematic as an ordinance has the force of law…a law that would likely conflict with Federal Law. in other words Nullification.
    If that’s the case it could immediately be struck down by the Courts because it violates Article 1 Section 8 Clause 8 of the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause.

    A Resolution doesn’t have force of law and is considered policy guidance from the Council to the Administration. Again depending on the language such policy guidance could violate Federal Law.

    A Proclamation would be the equivalent of a “sense of the Council measure.” It has no force of law… no policy guidance… but simply the opinion of the Town Council… they are routinely passed from everything to birthdays, to honoring citizens for achievements, to expressing an opinion… they are the least binding measure the Council can pass.

  5. Officer John McDonough, Please provide the names of the ten Americans killed by illegal aliens you read at the city council meeting.

    • OK Bruce, here you are:
      Joshua Wilkerson
      Sergeant Corey Blake
      Jasmine Owens
      Drew Rosenberg
      Officer Kevin Will
      Jamiel Shaw
      Olivia Wilson
      Ryan Scholz
      Kate Steinle
      These are sadly only a fraction of the thousands that have been killed by Illegal Immigrants.

        • All Illegal Immigrants shouldn’t be vilified for the acts of some and I believe this is exactly what you are doing here. Also, there are more than enough Americans and Legal Immigrants who commit violent crimes. What you’ve presented is, in my opinion, completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

        • How about a list of Americans killed by Americans? A much longer list. Not to say we shouldn’t get rid of those who are criminals or violent, but I don’t think that the criminals represent the whole group.

          What about the businesses that rely on these people for labor? No body seems to be screaming that we should shut down those businesses. Always the little guy is the one who is punished. But the point is that this issue is not as simple as some like to portray it.

  6. A point of clarification – No sanctuary city that I know of protects violent criminals so the people Officer John McDonough referred to would not be covered by any ordinance, resolution, or proclamation the town passed. I am sure Watertown would follow the example of other safe communities and if ICE comes to our town with a warrant for someone’s arrest, that person would be turned over to ICE. The purpose of sanctuary cities is to make our communities safer. It is so that law abiding undocumented residents will feel safe to report crimes to the police. This isn’t just for their safety – it’s for the safety of us all!

    • Hello Carolyn,

      I respectfully disagree. In the case of Kate Steinle, her murderer was deported over 5 times. Sanctuary Cities do not cooperate with the Federal Government and despite this individuals past history of drug trafficking convictions, San Francisco will not inform the Feds of a criminal who is here illegally UNLESS, there is a specific warrant for his arrest. This is wrongheaded and dangerous and ultimately ended in the death of Kate. What issue do we have as a town with our Law Encorcement notifying the Feds of a criminal in custody that is here illegally?


  7. Everyone seems to be overlooking one issue that prevents Watertown from becoming a sanctuary city: it is a town. So unless they want to go through the trouble of renaming to Watercity, it can not become a sanctuary city.

  8. Wasn’t it reported that only 7%of all criminals in prison are illegals? Unlike the recent claims

    What will the impact be on our economy if we deport all the illegal aliens. Pretty sure a few of you readers use a landscaping company that might have undocumented workers, eaten in restaurants whose back room staff (dishwashers, etc) are undocumented…… just some more kindling for your fire. Pretty sure there are undocumented workers you encounter everyday that contribute to your daily life . There is no easy solution

    • Hello Corey,

      Could you share where the 7% number comes from or who reported it? According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 2.2 million people were locked up in 2013. Let’s take the 7% number as fact and say that is over 150K Illegal Immigrants that are locked up and shouldn’t even be here in the first place. Is that acceptable to you? As far as your assertion that some of us use the services of companies that employ Illegal Immigrants, you are probably right. However, I don’t think any of the people who oppose Sanctuary Cities believe that the Feds are going to raid our local restaurants or lawn care companies in order to round up Illegals that have not committed crimes, other than crossing the border, which is still a crime.


  9. “The purpose of sanctuary cities is to make our communities safer.”

    I am at a loss on how this is so. By disregarding federal, state and local law, we would actually make the community less safe for all. By picking and choosing “the flavor of the day,” we undermine the values and precedents of our republic. By ignoring history, we give ourselves the tools & cause needed to dismantle our way of life. The Romans did all of this and were not even aware that they were destroying their society, condemning the west to centuries of loss of knowledge, culture, law, societal stability, the list goes on…

    • Fred, let me explain why it is said that sanctuary cites make our communities safer. We can safely assume that there are illegal immigrants living in Watertown because we have a high immigrant population in general. When police are used to apprehend illegals, it often sets up a situation of mistrust with the police. So illegals and the other immigrants they live amongst are less likely to call police when they are victims of crime, are witnesses of crime or think that a crime is about to be committed.

      For instance if a group of illegal immigrants has information on a potential terrorist or gang members, they are more likely to share that information with police if they feel that the police will not turn them in to ICE. Another example: a family of legal immigrants has a member who is illegal and deported because they came to the attention of the police. That family is not likely to trust the police if they happen to have information about more serious crimes. This is why many police chiefs, especially in areas with large immigrant populations, are in favor of the sanctuary city idea. It helps the police do their job in the immigrant communities because they are not seen as the enemy. The idea is based on a separation of jurisdiction: the local police have a mission of public safety in their community. Immigration is the jurisdiction of ICE, a federal agency. The two are best kept separate.

  10. My thoughts on this…

    1: It’s not, nor should it be, the state or local governments responsibility, or duty to enforce federal law.

    2: Local law enforcement should not be in the business of chasing down illegal aliens, inquiring about residency/immigration status, going into workplaces and questioning employers.

    However, if during the course of routine, normal community policing, that the agency involved is made aware via commonly used procedures that a person has entered the country illegally, they should have a duty and obligation to notify federal authorities,
    be it for a minor traffic stop or violent felony. If ICE isn’t interested, or fails to respond within a reasonable amount of time, then it’s no longer the local agencies concern.

    3: This whole “Sanctuary City” nonsense is nothing more than a politically motivated statement and unenforceable resolution that accomplishes nothing. Let’s be honest here, this whole charade is more about sending a **** TRUMP message than
    it is about protecting those whom enter the country illegally.

    4: All nations and countries have established borders and boundaries since pretty much record history, up until the present time. With that comes the right and duty to
    enact rules, laws, guidelines, etc of whom can cross those borders, under what circumstances, and enforce those laws. If you don’t like or agree with those laws, rules or guidelines, work to change it… not willfully ignore them.

    • If it’s purely a ***** Trump message, that is perfectly fine with me. I’ll endorse it wholeheartedly.

      Trump is a fascist, plain and simple. Would you tell the opponents of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco to try to work within the system to change things? No, there are times when the only moral thing to do is to disobey the law. Like Thoreau. Like Ghandi. Like MLK.

  11. Cathy (3/1) said that she immigrated legally, so everyone else should, too. All they have to do she said is go back to their countries and return; “unless they have something to hide” they’ll be welcomed back. How could they hide their pain and hardship? For your fear of terrorists being undocumented, count the terror caused by American born men. Plenty of those who risked life and limb to come here illegally did so because they would be killed and their families threatened by returning to their countries. Lawlessness, meaning gang and soldier predators, including the government in some cases trying to avoid political criticism and unwilling to let people live as their hearts wish, is the reason. Perhaps Cathy came for economic reasons, for school, or to follow a loved one. Good that you could stay. Not good to pull up the safety ladder behind you. You never know how some people suffer leaving their loved ones and the land they grew up in. It’s the dream of living freely, not in another police state, that draws people here and keeps this citizen vigilant to maintain our diverse community. I welcome Sanctuary City status. It is a sign that Watertown values community and stands with those whose voices have no value elsewhere. It is a sign that the police serve the community and feel part of us. It is the least we can do. Barbara

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