Calls for Watertown to Become Sanctuary City Continue as Neighbors Adopt Policies

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As more area towns pass ordinances to declare that undocumented immigrants will be protected from federal efforts to deport them, the debate continues whether Watertown should join the growing list of Sanctuary Cities and Towns.

The ordinances typically declare that local police departments will not check immigration status as part of routine matters, but they will if a crime is committed. Also, illegal aliens are not protected by the Sanctuary City ordinance if they have committed a felony or violent crime.

Local supporters of Watertown becoming a Sanctuary Town held signs in Watertown Square followed by a rally at a nearby church attended by hundreds. The next week, dozens packed the Town Council Chambers to voice their opposition to the Council passing a Sanctuary City ordinance.

In early May, Arlington’s Town Meeting passed the warrant article to make it a Sanctuary town. Watertown resident Maria Saiz, who came to the United States as a political refugee, said she believes the Town Council should follow.

“Communities surrounding us have passed ordinances: Newton, Boston, even Belmont … Belmont!” Saiz said at last week’s Council meeting. “And now Arlington. Are we going to come in last?”

Caroline Bays, who helped organize the “Watertown Welcomes Immigrants” rally, said that she has heard Police Chief Michael Lawn speak about the WPD’s practice of not seeking people’s immigration status so that people are not scared to call police.

“I was at the Unity Breakfast where Chief Lawn spoke. I was thrilled with what he said,” Bays said. “It does no good if immigrants don’t know the policy.”

Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin agreed, and said she would like to see the Watertown Police’s policy put into writing.

Not everyone at the meeting agreed that the town should take this step.

Resident Russ Arico said he fears that by becoming a Sanctuary Town, Watertown will be sending the wrong message.

“This Council does not have to make a written policy,” Arico said.

He worries that becoming a Sanctuary Town will “not discourage people who want to do bad things from coming here.”

Deborah Dugan said she felt like she was “watching American culture break down” when she saw that the Town Council did not oppose a medical marijuana facility coming to town – especially when state law has not been completely settled whether they will be able to sell it for recreational use. She added that she sees becoming a Sanctuary Town in a similar light.

“I assume you will be taking up the Sanctuary City ordinance,” Dugan said. “I myself think it would be another travesty.”

Town Councilors have said they will take up a Sanctuary Town ordinance but has not yet scheduled it for a public hearing or vote.

16 thoughts on “Calls for Watertown to Become Sanctuary City Continue as Neighbors Adopt Policies

  1. How about a resounding NO! Just because other communities are doing it, doesn’t
    mean that we have any obligation (moral or otherwise), to follow their misguided

    • What childlike assertions: “Other towns and cities have declared sanctuary cities, and why should Watertown come in last!!” or words to that effect. What incredible non-sense; our town/city officials took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enimies, foreign and domestic, which includes all legal laws of the land, state, city and town. People advocating for a sanctuary status are just plain liberal status seekers who, like lemmons running for the sea, follow in lock step with their ill advised neighbors. What does it take to have individuals understand that bonefide LAWS and REGULATIONS must be obeyed, there is no wiggle room for deciding, “Oh gee, I don’t feel like stopping for this red light, I am in such a hurry to go shopping today!!” There are American citizens that have been killed, and are about to be killed, by ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS who have been deported multiple times and still wind up re entering our country, yet, this does not at all seem to bother those whom are advocating for sanctuary city status…UNTIL ONE OF THEIR CHILDREN GETS MURDERED by one of these thugs. What hypocrites. Shameless. In fact, they themselves become criminals by backing criminal behavior. That’s why there is such a egregcious movement to get as many cities and towns as possible to decalre for sancturary status, so that THEY WILL NOT BE STANDING ALONE IN THEIR FOOLISHNESS, LAW BREAKING POSITIONS.

      • What idiotic assertions on your part Mr. Clifford: You declare that all illegal immigrants are thugs and murderers. There are plenty of good people that are illegal immigrants in this country. Your assumptions are what is FOOLISH!!!

      • Will, you have more chance of being murdered by native citizen than an illegal immigrant. That’s a fact. You are demonizing a whole group of people unfairly. That is not what justice, or our country is about. And did you know that ALL CAPS is considered screaming?

  2. Please stand strong against the unlawful sanctioning of providing shelter for ILLEGAL aliens. They will be safe as long as they remain lawful.

  3. OK First of all the policy described here-in is virtually the current policy… so any proclamation, resolution, or ordinance would be redundant and unecessary, that is unless your intention is to abuse the Town Council’s time to make a Political Statement.

    Moreover, it comes with a danger. Those who are here illegally may not understand exactly what Watertown means by Sanctuary City. Hearing the term Sanctuary City, they may think it’s what other cities doe where they completely refuse to cooperate with Federal Authorities. So in essence such a measure makes Watertown a MAGNET for Illegal Aliens, and among them may be violent criminals seeking to take advantage of what they might believe Sanctuary City Means in Watertown.. Trust m they won’t read the ordinance, resolution, or proclamation.

    So why these special rights for illegal aliens. Why are we going to treat these lawbreakers differently than say people who are driving with expired insurance. Why should the police bother to check that sort of thing with the registry, during a routine stop? They see a valid sticker on the license plate, why should they run the plate?? After all; should the State Police be enforcing Registry of Motor Vehicles regulations and laws?

    How about a Sanctuary City, for those who have outstanding unpaid moving violations from other towns and counties? That’s a minor offense. Watertown Police should ignore any warrant for such minor offenses unless the infraction happened in Watertown. Let the County Sheriff enforce warrants for such things, issued by Courts. Let them go knock on the violators door.

    Why should CITIZENS and LEGAL IMMIGRANTS who might commit a minor moving violation and forget to pay the fine, going to be subjected to tougher treatment under the law, then those who violated our immigration laws, as a matter of Town Ordinance.

    Entering this country illegally or purposely overstaying a visa is by far a greater infraction than speeding or running a stop sign and then forgetting to pay the ticket.

    So why special rights, for people who really only have one legal and moral right…. that is deportation. That’s not to say I favor deporting them all. But they are allowed to stay it is not be because they right to stay. It’s out of mercy, kindness, and generosity.

    • John, this is your usual bloviating hogwash. You go on as if you are a man who has never done anything wrong in his life. Show some humility, for God’s sake.

  4. First and foremost, federal immigration laws exist for the protection of all of our nation’s citizens. No state or local government including the Watertown town council has the legal authority to obstruct or infringe on any citizens’ rights to the full and equal protections of these laws. The town council should show courage, stand firm, and not get involved with this purely political issue. Watertown should not under any circumstances be permitted to serve as a political platform for far left liberal agendas that both in town and out of town fringe groups have been pushing on all the town residents for years. Creating an ordinance that directs non-compliance of any degree with a federal law sets a poor example for young people. It will make a statement that it is now acceptable to not obey laws when we find them not to be to our liking. The town council should focus on performing the important jobs they were elected to do and avoid these unnecessary distractions.

    • The only problem Dean, is that Congress has avoided for decades–and I mean decades–bringing immigration law up to date. And so we have not a law to protect the nation and its citizens, but rather a mess. The the illegals are caught in it. Make no mistake, we have incentivized them to come here. Many American businesses hire them. Why not blame those businesses? Because it is easier to make a boogey man out of someone who doesn’t look like you.

      You are dead wrong–this is not a political issue, it is a moral issue. The politics enters into play when demagogue politicians try to convince Americans that their problems are the fault of these intruders from other countries, which provides a simple answer to what would otherwise be a complicated and uncomfortable issue.

      Blaming immigrants–legal or otherwise–will not solve any of our problems. We need to take a hard look at our immigration policies and pass realistic laws that will provide the labor the economy needs and make sensible policy that keeps the nation safe. But splitting up families or deporting kids who have lived here most of their lives isn’t going to make your life or mine any better.

      Scapegoating a group of people for our inability to deal with our problems–legislatively and economically–is a moral outrage. And that is what this issue is all about.

      • I see it as most definitely being a political issue with respect to wanting to make Watertown a “Sanctuary City”. It’s part of the anti-Trump hysteria being spun up by the hateful liberal base, and the biased left media. Not a single person has been deported from Watertown. No families have been forcefully separated in Watertown. These are facts. I was told directly by a town councilor that the proponents of this want to “send a message to President Trump”. That sounds very political to me.
        Looking at the whole immigration issue, it is both a moral and a political one. The moral part being helping to enable the people who are here to make a living on their own, and raise their families with a hopeful future. The political part lays in the reasons why the government has continued to allow people to come here illegally for so many years. The Republicans wanted the lower cost non-union labor (greed), and the Democrats wanted the growing future voting base (perpetual power). These have always been the drivers of the present problem. Illegal immigration is one the most serious domestic problems this country now faces. We will be exceeding 20 trillion dollars in national debt in a few months with no end in sight of continuing debt growth. Spending is out of control. Entitlements continue to grow every year. In 2015, the average household headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) cost the American taxpayer $6,234 in federal welfare benefits. It is growing higher every year. Over 70% of all immigrants living here today receive some type of public assistance.
        Please read:
        Massachusetts is 88.3 billion dollars in debt and growing. That’s currently $12,961 dollars per MA citizen. In 2017, MA will spend at least 36% of its total budget on providing subsidized health care and 10% of its total budget on welfare. Think about that, 46% of the budget is spent on just entitlements. Currently, MA has a population of 6.8 million people. 762,395 MA residents are currently food stamp recipients. There is over a 450 million dollar budget deficit projected for this year. Revenues have been below earlier projections. Where is the funding coming from to fill this gap? You will know next month, (TAXES & FEES INCREASES!) As noble as it may seem, we cannot continue to take in the entire world’s population and feed, house, and provide healthcare and education for them all without inevitable bankruptcy and collapse. Nearly half of what I work for is taken from me every year in taxes and fees. My healthcare costs have soared in recent years and will not be affordable if I develop any serious lasting illness. I have worked my lifetime to provide for my family. I have faithfully paid taxes to support my country, my state, and my community. I have been charitable and helped others whenever I could. Now I am being forced to support anyone who walks into this country and manages to get themselves on free public assistance. How is this moral or fair?

        • dean – while you are quoting statistics, note this one from the article you cite:

          Illegal immigrant households cost an average of $5,692 (driven largely by the presence of U.S.-born children), while legal immigrant households cost $6,378.

          Additionally, hard to trust the author of this study:

          VIDEO: Jason Richwine Discusses Welfare Report on FOX News

          Jason Richwine, PhD, is an independent public policy analyst in Washington, D.C., and a contributing writer at National Review.

          National Review? Fox News?

          Also, immigrants pay taxes, just like you.

        • Dean, there are so many inaccuracies in your comment that it is a waste of time to address them. But when I see a sentence like, “It’s part of the anti-Trump hysteria being spun up by the hateful liberal base, and the biased left media. . .”, I know the writer is a purveyor of bull.

  5. Can anyone tell us what the town gains by becoming a sanctuary city? Or what the citizens gain by making the town a sanctuary city (I know that might be a tough question, so take your time.)

    • There are two things that the town gains Ralph. First Watertown would occupy the moral high ground by refuting an effort by certain politicians to make a certain class of people scapegoats for Americans problems. This scapegoating smacks of the kind of persecution and oppression that many who reside in Watertown have fled in their native lands. Why is it oppression? Because blaming a single group for a nation’s problems has throughout history marked the beginning of bad, bad things.

      Secondly, it formalizes the policy that Watertown Police will not be burdened with doing the work that is supposed to be the duty of a federal agency. The Police will maintain a good relationship with immigrant communities which will help them obtain information from those communities. That information may eventually save lives.

      Let me be clear that I am not saying that immigrants illegal or otherwise who have committed crimes should not be deported. Nor I am saying that we should further delay fixing our outdated immigration policies. But we have enticed these people into our country by our willingness to give them work. To blame them for problems that are systematic to our economy and governance at present, is lazy thinking and morally wrong.

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