Sanctuary city designation up for discussion in Easthampton

  • Easthampton Municipal Building JERREY ROBERTS

@kate_ashworth
Published: 2/21/2017 11:34:35 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Debate has stirred throughout Easthampton over possible sanctuary city designation, but the move may put thousands of dollars in federal funding at risk.

The next city meeting on the topic is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the second-floor meeting area of the Municipal Building, 50 Payson Ave. The Ordinance Subcommittee also plans to discuss creation of a human right committee and a possible ordinance regarding recreational marijuana.

On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” the executive order states. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

The order states that it is the policy of the executive branch to “ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable federal law do not receive federal funds, except as mandated by law.”

It is unclear exactly how much money the federal government could withhold.

For fiscal year 2017, Easthampton received $574,452.05 in federal revenue and $996,648 in grant awards for the school deparment and city, according to figures provided by the city auditor. An $800,000 Community Development Block Grant was awarded in June 2016 to be used this fiscal year. In fiscal year 2016, the city received more than $1.9 million in federal revenue.

Various petitions and statements for and against the matter have been circulating through the city and into the mailboxes of council members and the mayor. The most recent urges Mayor Karen Cadieux and the Easthampton City Council to “instruct the Easthampton Police Department to ignore ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainer requests.”

Since 2014, the Easthampton Police Department has had an immigration policy in place for undocumented immigrants who are victims or witnesses of crimes to be eligible for a U visa for up to four years.

The Easthampton Police Department does not seek out immigration status, according to Police Chief Robert Alberti.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.


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