Mayor Gary Christenson of Malden, Massachusetts says his city doesn’t need to declare itself as a “sanctuary city” because it has always been and will always be a safe, open place for people of all cultures, walks of life, and beliefs. While the Mayor’s declaration is meant to be a show of good faith, it might also be a smart political move for Malden.
Mayor Christenson’s statement comes in light of President Trump’s immigration and Muslim crackdown. The term “sanctuary city” is any city that has openly declared it will not prosecute residents who have violated federal immigration laws; it is also any city that does not plan to cooperate with federal agencies that are attempting to deport undocumented immigrations. As part of a recent Trump executive order, any “sanctuary city” will be blocked from receiving any sort of federal funding. With no official declaration of sanctuary coming from Malden, federal funding should remain untouched.
It is relevant to note that Malden has the second-highest immigrant concentration in Massachusetts. It also has an Islamic Center that also serves as a mosque and community center. There have been expressions of concern from Muslims and new residents in Malden regarding the uncertain times ahead.
The same executive order that created the strict immigration ban targeted Muslim-prominent nations also instructed city-level law enforcement officers to essentially act as federal immigration officers when the need arises. Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis has claimed his local-level department would not be acting as federal immigration officers and actively seeking out undocumented immigrants. He cited that he believed a police department should be a safe space for anyone reporting a crime or incident, and asking their immigration status in hopes to deport them would betray that trust, which could potentially create a rise in unreported criminal activity. The police chief’s refusal may also consider the fact that the federal duties were tossed onto local enforcement agencies without any promise of additional compensation, in ordering them to complete two jobs for the salary of one.
Attorney Jamie Gorton of Law Offices of Jamie H. Gorton spoke with Wicked Local, an online news source, about the executive order and the changes that are already stirring up controversy coast-to-coast. He mentioned that his law firm has already heard from clients fearful of the potentially-imminent revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. If DACA is taken away, immigrants who entered the country as minors could lose work permit eligibility and get listed for deportation. Gorton also mentioned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appears to have lessened its investigation discretion and ramped up its prosecutorial zealotry, seeking absolutely every undocumented immigrant rather than prioritizing those who have been linked to serious crimes.
Would you like to know more about the statements of Mayor Christenson and Police Chief Molis? Be sure to check out Wicked Local’s full article, which features Attorney Gorton, by clicking here. If you need a Malden immigration attorney so you can understand and protect your rights as an immigrant, refugee, or resident, schedule a consultation with our law firm today by calling (617) 902-0100.