February 12, 2017

Mariano: Should Worcester be a sanctuary city? The votes are in.

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Worcester -- find out why Ray Mariano can't quit his hometown.

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Ray Mariano

Last week, my column gave people an opportunity to vote and comment on whether Worcester should become a sanctuary city.  Here are the results. NOTE: This is not a scientific survey, but rather a reader’s poll. Duplicate votes from the same IP address were eliminated.

For any person being questioned or detained by the police, should Worcester inquire about their immigration status?

READER RESULTS:   50% Yes  50% No

BACKGROUND:  Generally, across the country, police departments are strongly opposed to being used as immigration agents for the federal government.

MY OPINION:  This is easy. No. The police say that this would make their job much more difficult, and I believe them.

Last week’s Mariano: Breaking down the sanctuary city debate

If the Worcester police have an undocumented immigrant in custody, for any reason, should they hold them in custody if requested to do so by federal officials?

READER RESULTS:   62% Yes  38% No

BACKGROUND:  According to Police Chief Steve Sargent, on rare occasions, the WPD receives what is known as a “detainer request” from federal authorities. If someone is in custody and seeking to be released, this information is provided to the state court clerk magistrate to use in their decision whether to grant bail. The WPD is bound by that decision and must release an individual granted bail.

MY OPINION:  We already follow state law, and the decision of the state court clerk magistrate. In the past, some local law enforcement agencies have held offenders for up to a year and have never been reimbursed for those costs. The city does not have the resources to hold someone. However, it should coordinate with other agencies, as it does now, to ensure that a dangerous criminal remains in custody.

If an undocumented immigrant, who has previously committed a felony, is questioned or detained by police, should Worcester contact federal officials and notify them?

READER RESULTS:   74% Yes  26% No

BACKGROUND:  First, it is important to know that, in Worcester as with most police departments, anyone who is arrested and booked is fingerprinted. Those fingerprints are always sent to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is accessed by the State Police, the FBI, Homeland Security, and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). That means federal officials are automatically notified when someone is arrested. Immigration officials can easily monitor this information and take appropriate action when necessary.

The question, then, is should Worcester go beyond fingerprint notification to ensure that federal immigration authorities know that Worcester has an undocumented individual in custody who has a felony criminal record?

MY OPINION: Absolutely, yes. If an undocumented immigrant has a felony criminal record, in addition to fingerprint notification, the WPD should contact federal authorities to alert them. And we should keep calling them until they respond.

If an undocumented immigrant, without any criminal background, is questioned or detained by police, should Worcester contact federal officials and notify them?

READER RESULTS:   44% Yes  56% No

BACKGROUND:  Again, as stated above, fingerprints are sent along to the State Police and federal officials.

MY OPINION:  I would not go beyond the current practice of sending fingerprints, which in and of itself is notification.

Should Worcester become a sanctuary city?

READER RESULTS:   43% Yes  57% No

BACKGROUND:  Initially, Mayor Joseph Petty and the City Council were threading the needle by not formally declaring Worcester as a sanctuary city while employing some of the policies of a sanctuary city. My best guess is that the city’s position was politically expedient in that it was designed not to offend voters. Then, when President Trump signed his executive order, the city’s position seemed like a politically smart move in that it risked no federal funds while, at the same time, not involving the local police in federal immigration matters.

However, all of that changed the minute Councilor-at-large Michael Gaffney asked city councilors to state their opinion on the record. I am guessing that Gaffney’s resolution was designed more to embarrass the mayor, who he is likely to run against this year, than it was to “protect our citizens.” Nevertheless, it forced the City Council’s hand.

READER COMMENTS:  I was surprised to read the number of comments that incorrectly described a sanctuary city. A number of readers questioned why local officials would not follow federal law.

“A law is a law,” many wrote. However, there is no federal law that requires local police to ask about someone’s immigration status. Further, there is no federal law that requires a local police department to detain anyone who is an undocumented immigrant.

A sanctuary city does not ignore federal law. And local law enforcement does not interfere with federal law in any way. In those cities, local law enforcement simply leaves enforcement of federal law to federal authorities. That is what is happening in Worcester today – and has been for years.

There were those who tried to tie the sanctuary city issue to Muslims. “Kelly M” listed a long list of assaults from around the world that have been attributed to Muslims. She neglected to mention that the vast majority of her examples were not undocumented immigrants and thus would not be affected by a sanctuary city policy.

Finally, “Mark” asked: “What if ISIS or a drug cartel wanted to hide in a sanctuary city?” Here again, he is misinformed. Anyone accused or suspected of a crime would be investigated by federal and local police.

MY OPINION:  There are several issues to consider here. First is the impact of any decision on the ability of the Worcester police to do its job. Police officials feel strongly that adding the issue of immigration status to an already difficult and dangerous job would be a mistake.

Second is the potential loss of federal funds. While we do not yet know precisely which funds or grants would be in jeopardy, we do know that Worcester already struggles to receive these funds and needs them badly. However, in my opinion, the potential for losing existing funding, simply by declaring Worcester a sanctuary city, is very small.

Third, the term sanctuary city has no legal meaning. Even if you are not a sanctuary city you can employ the very same police practices – which Worcester does now. In other words, Worcester is already a de facto sanctuary city. We just don’t say it out loud.

Fourth and most important is what a sanctuary city means in the age of Trump. Prior to Donald Trump becoming president, I would have supported the city’s position, in which it did not claim sanctuary status but allowed the police to do their job unencumbered by immigration matters.

However, Trump has turned our world upside down – and he has done so with mean-spirited attacks on many vulnerable communities.

More than Gaffney’s council resolution, Trump has forced people to choose sides rather than meet in the middle – where the best political policy generally exists. In that context, and although it would not change a single existing police practice here in Worcester, I would vote to make Worcester a sanctuary city.

Sometimes, you just have to stand up to a bully.

Raymond V. Mariano is a Worcester Sun columnist. He comments on his hometown every Sunday in Worcester Sun.

14 thoughts on “Mariano: Should Worcester be a sanctuary city? The votes are in.

  1. My Grandparents came here the “legal” way !!!!!
    They walked off the boat, raised their right hands and promised to be good. The only hard part was the week in Ellis Island quarantine. Well disease killed millions back then !
    In 1924 the Republicans seized control of the 3 branches of Government and slammed the door shut. No more nasty people like Italians Greeks Albanians and other people of ‘questionable’ genetic heritage were to be allowed to walk in unmolested.
    Interestingly the ‘Volk’ like my grandparents had an easier go.
    Despite 2 World Wars and losing around 1/4 million soldiers …….
    Germans were always welcome !
    Just raise your right hand and say ‘Nazi Schmatzy’ and you were good to go.

  2. No borders=no country. This is the globalist dream. Try overstaying your visa in Guatemala and see what happens. Be lost along the Mexican/US border and get caught. You will find yourself in jail for over a year. No bail and no trial.

  3. You did a horrible job as Worcester housing executive director where the chain of command and the logistics of the place where grossly managed it is no surprise you would want to worcester to be a sanctuary city where the supposed elite think they know what is best for the people they look down on…if your here legally you can stay and if your here illegally you should leave or try to come in the correct way

  4. Why are people coming into America illegally? Why or What are people hiding? What is so wrong with people doing the right thing by registering as they come into the United States. Why would any state want to harbor illegals? I dont have any problem helping another person, but not all people come into this country or states to start a better life. As we all witness the terror attacks in New York, BOSTON, California etc. some wish us more harm and chaos and try to demoralize our American spirit and way of life.

    As a country, we need to do the right thing and protect our own FIRST. Then help and protect the people that want change, “change and prosperity for a better life”. God Bless America and its people who protect it!!

  5. Thank you. Mr. Mariano, for showing your compassionate side. Like Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh, I grew up believing that America was a country that protected the helpless. I grew up believing that the Statue of Liberty held her torch as a beacon to guide those fleeing from persecution to our shores.

    We must welcome refugee families, and stand by our immigrant populations, whether they are now citizens or working on a path towards citizenship. Trump has created enough chaos and fear already. Let’s try to offer people in need of sanctuary as much comfort as we would hope someone would offer to us if we should some day be on the wrong end of policies like Trump’s.

  6. Immigrants come because we INVITE them. Why do they know more about what our country stands for than the “citizens”. Your ancestors knew when THEY were immigrants. Luckily for all of you, the process was much easier……or a good many of you would have had an illegal immigrant as the founding member of the American branch of your family tree.

  7. Mr. Mariano, while running the Worcester housing department, where there rules or laws that tenants must follow in order to remain in said housing? Where these tenants allowed to pick and choose which rules to follow? Would you grant them sanctuary for having broken those rules? If someone in your employ was privy to rules and regulations being broken by certain tenants would you expect them to notify you of their misdeeds or would you be accepting of them not informing you? If someone just moved into a vacant apartment without your approval would you bring them food stamps and a medical card and just let them remain because they happened to find their into the apartment?
    People who have committed no crime and are not guilty of any wrongdoing are not in need of sanctuary. The fact that cities are calling themselves ” sanctuary” implies they are not following federal law. Not notifying the proper federal authorities and requiring the police department not to notify the proper federal authorities about illegal entrants makes those giving the command to do so, in my humble opinion, accomplices in the federal crime.

    • All great points and as having run hoysing he understands the pressure the homeless in worc is facing and the need for housing for the citizens….now illegals will come and take priority over homeless citizens and revieve welfare benefits and ssi and heslthcare and not work as they will be illegal…while fed funding will be helping who? Not the citizens well be to busy working to support them

      • The Worcester Housing Authority has always and will always follow federal law relative to undocumented immigrants. Nothing will change.

        • Sometimes you have to stand up to a bully?? Do you consider enforcing federal law bullying?
          Why not stand up to those who bullied their way into the country illegally?? I would say someone breaking into my house without permission is mean spirited. A government which I help employ not doing their job on my behalf is mean spirited. What is the incentive to enter the country legally if the law turns a blind eye to those who enter illegally? I’m sure many citizens feel like they’re being bullied by a government that doesn’t follow it’s own rules and expects them to pay for their incompetence and malfeasance. What communities are vulnerable, the illegal alien community? They should feel vulnerable. Why would the mayor feel embarrassed if he stood up and claimed what he truly believes, that Worcester is already a “de facto” sanctuary city? Why not make it official?

  8. Lets get down to rhe come down its all about the funding ……and its not even mentioned here how much ot eould be……amd how the funds would ve allocated….or how much damage wconominvally illegal immigrants do to our country let akone a city…the welfare department will allocate the funds are all ready fully packed shelters will increase and demand other homeless people born here to wait for placement and the housing lists will be come further assaulted. Can we help our cutizens here in worcester before expanding our non existant help for the poor before adding more weight to the scale….the federal funding would be divided into more pay scales for not needed execs than it would actually go to providing relief….and to illegals not even citizens seems pretty ass backwards

    • Hmmm let’s see. Worcester becomes a sanctuary city. The Feds pull funding. Money needs to be made up somehow. My taxes go up? Not while I can still breathe.

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