Springfield, Massachusetts Votes to Become a Sanctuary City
By Colton R. Overcash | December 21, 2018
In what may become a foreshadowing of things to come in 2019, Massachusetts’ third most populous city has just voted to make itself a sanctuary city. During its regular meeting on December 17, the Springfield City Council voted 10-3 to adopt the Welcoming Community Trust Act, a sanctuary ordinance designed to protect illegal aliens from law enforcement.
If implemented, the Welcoming Community Trust Act would:
- Prohibit city employees and police officers from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status, reporting any suspicions about an individual’s immigration status to federal authorities, or taking any law enforcement action against an individual suspected of having an unlawful status;
- Prohibit the police department from cooperating with federal authorities on immigration detainer requests or any other immigration enforcement initiative;
- Prohibit city employees from targeting or punishing any medical, education, or faith institution that provides refuge to illegal aliens and their families;
- Require the police department to release any inmate who has posted bail or satisfied their court sentence regardless if they are an illegal alien; and
- Require the police department to monitor how frequently U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) visits the city, and to submit a routine report to the city council with the following information:
- the number of illegal aliens taken into custody by ICE;
- the number of illegal aliens detained pursuant to a court-issued warrant;
- the number of detainer requests issued by ICE;
- the number of illegal aliens detained without a court-issued warrant and why.
The city council also voted to re-establish a civilian police oversight board known as the Board of Police Commissioners. The five-member board will have the power to launch investigations, create or refashion police department policies, and take disciplinary action against law enforcement personnel, including but not limited to suspension or termination of employment.
Several council members praised the measure after the vote, including City Councilor Jesse Lederman (D – At-Large), who said that “[he] does not want [illegal aliens] in [Springfield] to be afraid or to live in the shadows any longer”, according to a video of the council meeting.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (D) has vetoed the two ordinances, saying that the Trust Act “will create unanticipated and unbudgeted financial and legal challenges to [Springfield’s] schools, health, housing, and police departments.”
The city council has already overridden Sarno’s veto of the oversight board ordinance and may have the votes to override his second veto of the Welcoming Community Trust Act. The city council would need at least nine votes to override the veto, and unless two of the city councilors who initially voted for the measure change their vote, the veto will probably be overridden. A vote to consider an override appears likely to come sometime in January.