A Nation of Immigrants

We’re in the middle of the 2018 Annual Town Meeting. Last week I spoke in support of making Lexington a welcoming and safe community for all, including the undocumented among us who live, work, and travel in Lexington. I’m proud of my immigrant heritage and I was proud to be part of the overwhelming majority of Town Meeting Members to cast their vote in support.

As a granddaughter of immigrants from Armenia, Ireland, and Italy, I stand here tonight in solidarity with our immigrant communities, recognizing we, too, are made up of many different countries of origin.

Our country (and our Commonwealth) is made stronger by the contributions of our immigrant residents and we must pass responsible reforms to protect these gains.

Homeland Security’s field office for Boston’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), is right next door in Burlington. I was there in February to protest the Trump administration’s immigration detention and deportation agenda, because it aggressively targets people and families, separating them regardless of how long they’ve lived in the country.

Under the current Republican administration, ICE is aggressively targeting not only violent criminals, but also low-level offenders and those with outstanding deportation orders, regardless of how long they’ve lived here, which, by the way, are civil infractions, not criminal ones.

We need immigration reform in this country. We need policy that puts people and families first. We must protect the civil rights of all Massachusetts residents. That’s why I support the Safe Communities Act and Article 34.

This Resolution would make Lexington a welcoming, inclusive, and safe community for all people, regardless of their immigration status.

Police Chief Corr raised particular concerns and Lexington People Power [who sponsored the Article] has adequately responded to them — and that’s important — because Article 34 concerns the rights and relationships between the Lexington Police Department and undocumented people living, working, and traveling here.

This Resolution is built around key provisions of the Safe Communities Act to protect civil liberties of the undocumented in Lexington. It protects due process and will not keep police from investigating crimes or prosecuting anyone who commits a crime, nor will it stop police from collaborating with federal agencies, including ICE, as part of any criminal investigation.

Without trust and good communication, undocumented people won’t feel safe to report crime or contact the police, for fear of being arrested or detained. We need trust between residents and our police department staff for improved public safety for all in our community.

Until the State Legislature acts on the Safe Communities Act, cities and towns across the Commonwealth have taken local action reflecting many of the Safe Communities Act’s provisions. Let’s join them and enthusiastically adopt this Article.

Featured images: From the collection of Scipione, Sullivan, and Ajemian families