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.