Cambridge, MA Reaffirms its Commitment as a Sanctuary City
Status: Adopted on 5/8/06
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge has been enriched and built by generations of immigrants; and
WHEREAS: Cambridge has a proud history as a Sanctuary city, as declared by City Council Order Number 4 of April 8, 1985; and
WHEREAS: There are now approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States who have been systematically denied the opportunity enjoyed by past generations of immigrants to become legal permanent residents or citizens of this country; and
WHEREAS: Over the past two decades, immigration policy has become even more restrictive and punitive and closed off avenues previously available for immigrants to obtain legal permanent residency, while the US-Mexico border has been further militarized; and
WHEREAS: While borders have been closed off to people over the past two decades, they have been simultaneously opened up to trade and capital; and
WHEREAS: These same “free trade” economic policies, have increased poverty and decreased opportunities for people to make a dignified living and support their families; and
WHEREAS: In 2005, record numbers of migrants seeking a means to support their families, with no alternative to migrate safely into the United States, perished in the desert along the US-Mexico border, while countless others lost their lives in the journey; and
WHEREAS: The migration experience has adverse emotional and psychological effects on families, who are kept apart for many years due to unjust immigration policies and backlogs in visa applications; and
WHEREAS: Undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable to workplace abuses and housing discrimination; and
WHEREAS: Current US immigration policy does not reflect our standards of what is just, humane and moral; and
WHEREAS: Both undocumented and documented immigrants in the U.S. fuel our economy and those of their countries of origin; and
WHEREAS: On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed HR-4437, which would have drastic consequences for nearly all immigrants to this country, their families, their neighbors and those who support them; and
WHEREAS: The US Senate is currently considering a companion bill to HR-4437 that contains many of the same counterproductive, misguided measures, including criminalization of immigrants and those who help them, further militarization of the border, turning police into immigration agents and erosion of cherished legal traditions such as due process; and
WHEREAS: The US Senate is also considering guest worker programs that would create a second-class citizenry without basic rights that would be disenfranchised and would be vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers; and
WHEREAS: Much of the public discourse surrounding immigration has taken on a tone that ranges from irrational to racist, as seen in the use of language such as “illegal” and “alien” to describe immigrants, which has a dehumanizing effect and helps justify policies that seek to criminalize and exclude immigrants; and
WHEREAS: Raids carried out by the federal government, ranging from the highly publicized nationwide workplace raids on April 17, 2006 that resulted in the arrest of 1,187 employees, to the less widely-known sweeps of homes such as occurred in Massachusetts on March 6, 2006, have instilled fear and panic in immigrant communities and created environments that are ripe for intimidation, harassment and racial profiling; and
WHEREAS: Following the raids in April, the US Homeland Security Secretary announced that it would be intensifying such enforcement measures, an announcement that came in the midst of unprecedented numbers of immigrants demonstrating in defense of their dignity, against HR-4437, and for an opportunity to obtain legal permanent residency; and
WHEREAS: The cities of Maywood, Huntington Park and Coachella, CA have resurrected the spirit of the Sanctuary City movement in recent months and declared themselves Sanctuary Cities, and cities such as San Francisco and Chicago have reaffirmed their commitments as a Sanctuary Cities; now therefore, be it
RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge reaffirm its commitment as a Sanctuary City, as declared by City Council Order Number 4 of April 8, 1985; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge endorses the platform of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities’ Keep Our Families Together Campaign:
- Legal permanent residency for all undocumented immigrants.
- Expedition of family visas.
- Visionary program for future migration flows that respects the rights of immigrants as workers and as human beings.
- The social, political and economic integration of new immigrants into US society; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement be called upon to issue a moratorium on raids until the US congress comes to an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform so that the debate can be carried out in good faith, rather than against a backdrop of fear, repression and intimidation; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge affirms the basic human rights and dignity and every human being; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge rejects the use of the word “illegal” to describe human beings and the use of the word “aliens” to describe immigrants and hereby adopts the language “undocumented” when referring to those who do not have federally recognized resident status and “immigrant” to refer to those who have migrated to the US from another country; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Cambridge City Council hereby urges the United States Senate to defeat HR 4437 and does hereby urge the President of the United States to veto such legislation if it is in fact approved by the Senate; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation on behalf of the entire City Council.