Northampton council will vote on ‘safe city’ ordinance

  • Northampton City Councilor William Dwight is one of the three councilors who recommended the ordinance. JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2019 10:13:06 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council is set to take its first vote Thursday evening on an ordinance that would limit the city’s interactions with immigration enforcement authorities, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

Under the proposed “Northampton Safe City Ordinance,” the city would not give state or federal agencies information related to immigration enforcement unless it’s required by law, and city resources would not be used to determine anyone’s immigration status “unless such inquiry is required by state or federal law or to provide a public benefit.”

City resources would not be used to detain or delay a person’s release from custody due to an immigration detainer, a request made by ICE to law enforcement asking that they notify ICE before an undocumented person is released and/or hold that person for an additional 48 hours so they can be taken into federal custody. 

Mayor David Narkewicz issued an executive policy order in August 2014 that instructed the Northampton police to not honor or enforce a detainer request from ICE “that is non-criminal and not subject to a judicially issued warrant.”

The proposed ordinance would “enhance and expand” the 2014 executive policy order, said At-Large City Councilor William Dwight, one of the three councilors who formally recommended the ordinance. 

Alisa Klein, Ward 7 city councilor, also recommended the ordinance, saying the previous executive order “fell short.” If a new mayor were to be elected, she said, that person could reverse the order. The ordinance would apply to all city departments, not only the police, she added.

“We felt very strongly that it was important to actually codify in the codebook of the city that all departments, all city officials and city employees should not be complicit with ICE and not put at risk our residents that are undocumented,” Klein said.

Referring to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Dwight said, “We want to emphasize that we are not going to be compliant with the rather cynical campaign by Donald Trump and company.”

The ordinance doesn’t stop the city from giving federal immigration enforcement information in criminal cases.

“Sanctuary status does not say you can commit crimes in our city,” Narkewicz recently told the Valley Advocate. “That’s not what it says. What it says is we will follow the law and if there is a warrant for arrest, we will honor that warrant. We won’t honor it for someone who doesn’t have a warrant for arrest with no criminal proceeding or charge and we won’t hold someone without some kind of lawful court document or warrant.”

Councilors will take an initial vote Thursday, with a final vote expected to be taken Dec. 5, Klein said. If passed, Narkewicz told the Gazette, “I’​​​​​​​ll support it and certainly sign it into law.”

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