Northampton City Council passes ‘Safe City’ ordinance


Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2019 9:37:52 AM

NORTHAMPTON — As area legislators throw their support behind the Safe Communities Act — a bill that would create protections for immigrants who are in police custody, among other safeguards — City Council made its own statement Thursday night when it unanimously passed an ordinance that would limit the city’s interactions with immigration enforcement authorities. 

Under the “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.”

Additionally, 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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to law enforcement asking that they notify the agency before an undocumented person is released and/or hold that person for an additional 48 hours so they can be taken into federal custody. 

The ordinance builds on an executive policy order issued by Mayor David Narkewicz in August 2014 that instructs Northampton Police to not honor or enforce a detainer request from ICE “that is non-criminal and not subject to a judicially issued warrant.” 

“This at least is one form of a community standing up for everyone in it,” said Jeff Napolitano, executive director of The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice, an organization that helped work on the ordinance and other similar ones in cities and towns such as Easthampton.

The center has gotten feedback that recent federal policies are “not just about immigration — it’s really a proxy for the resurgence of racism in this country.”

He added, “When Stephen Miller or Trump talk about undocumented immigrants, they aren’t talking about undocumented folks from Ireland or Poland — it’s about people of color.”

After the council voted favorably on the ordinance, meeting attendees clapped. “It is something to be proud of,” said Ryan R. O'Donnell, City Council president.

The policy now goes to Narkewicz for his signature. 

Greta Jochem can be reached


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