Margaret Conniff, Homar Gomez, Kae Collins, and Jeff Napolitano: Welcoming ordinance to maintain dignity, safety for residents

Published: 7/12/2019 2:23:16 PM
Modified: 7/12/2019 2:23:05 PM

As of the evening of July 10, Easthampton is officially a welcoming city.

After two years of debate, consideration, legal review, and refinement, the Welcoming Community Trust ordinance aligns Easthampton with so many cities throughout the commonwealth and the nation that have chosen to side with families and public safety rather than with division.

The Easthampton City Council’s vote demonstrates our democracy is still vibrant and functional, that a contentious issue can be raised, debated by constituents and representatives, and that facts and common sense can prevail.

Ordinances like Welcoming Community Trust help communities maintain their integrity and safety. When any resident fears that an interaction with city officials could put them or their loved ones in jeopardy, they sink into the shadows. But when a city’s population feels safe to participate in their community, everyone benefits. Cities thrive when officials protect the safety of all residents.

The new municipal law, among other provisions, maintain current police practice and policy, which involves prioritizing the city of Easthampton and the safety of its residents. City officials can’t do the work of the federal immigration system unless it’s required by state or federal law. This means that the resources of Easthampton will be spent on Easthampton.

Helped by the work of members of the Easthampton Community Coalition and The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice, the Easthampton City Council decided that the dignity and safety of all of Easthampton’s residents are the priority.

After much review and an exhaustive opinion from the city solicitor — as well as drawing upon precedence from dozens of cities and towns in Massachusetts, and many more throughout the country — Easthampton’s new ordinance is constitutional and in line with state and federal law. From Boston to Worcester to Springfield, municipalities are stepping up to acknowledge the humanity of immigrants (whatever their status) and their families.

We’re happy to see Easthampton join this list.


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