Mayor Rivera, you called attention to this city
By Dalia Díaz
We like getting attention for many good things that occur in Lawrence. We don’t like getting attention to the bad news that occurs. Simple, right? Most good and bad things happen on their own. When I say “on their own”, I mean no rules, laws, or political push was needed to do the right thing by people, groups or agencies. But what happens when we call attention to ourselves in order to pick a fight? The answer: you get a fight.
There was no need for the City of Lawrence to enact the “Trust Ordinance”. No need at all! Several councilors and the Mayor decided to publicize and escalate a situation that needed neither publicity nor escalation. So they created an ordinance to send a message to Washington. Now Washington is sending a message in return.
Think about this for one second. Take away all the stereotypical and emotional behavior and look at the action of wanting to create and enact ordinance making Lawrence a sanctuary city. Why would the City create an ordinance? If the action was to not utilize local law enforcement to assist ICE in undocumented immigration arrest, an ordinance was not needed. Internally, it could have been a verbal policy. But no! City has to announce it and make it an ordinance just to hit Washington and call attention to this small city. And now, funding is at stake.
Do you think that this Trust Ordinance was created to help local law enforcement concentrate solely on doing their local jobs and not on immigration? No. This ordinance was created by a number of councilors who used their positions to make a political statement to the President of the United States. They placed the funding and people of Lawrence in danger, even more so now, that they are under the microscope with the Attorney General of the U.S. They used their positions to grandstand, most for votes.
The Lawrence Trust Ordinance was approved in August of 2015 and it says, “It is not within the purview nor mandate of the City to enforce federal immigration law or seek the detention, transfer or deportation of Lawrence residents for civil immigration purposes, nor should City resources be expended toward that end. Under no circumstances shall a person be contacted, detained, or arrested by City of Lawrence law enforcement personnel based on immigration status, whether known or unknown.”
And further down it reads, “No officer or employee of the City of Lawrence law enforcement agency shall respond to any ICE notification request seeking information about an individual’s incarceration status, length of detention, home address, work address, personal information, hearing information, or pending release.”
Mayor Rivera opposed the Trust Ordinance from the beginning. The City Council wanted to go forward. Because it was an election year, the Mayor caved in solely for votes. The City has fooled the people into a false sense of security by creating this Trust Ordinance. I believe that the heightened attention will now have ICE looking harder at Lawrence and that agency will be more involved in the city immigration task force. I sometimes wonder if Mayor Rivera intended it to be that way – to remove undocumented individuals from the city. No, but the decision is now hurting those people. It was about votes – getting as many Latino people to give their votes by creating a false sense of security.
Then, after receiving Jeff Sessions’ letter last week, the mayor has been making the rounds on television interviews with newscasters totally ignorant of what goes on in Lawrence, allowed him to look like an innocent school boy who doesn’t know why Trump is picking on us. WCVB-TV Channel 5’s Jorge Quiroga said, “Rivera says he has no idea why Lawrence made the list.” I cannot believe he doesn’t know that on February of 2016, Rivera sued the Trump Administration on behalf of sanctuary cities and that made the city a target.
Perhaps it was that State Senator Barbara L’Italien and State Representative Juana Matías have been eagerly speaking of their support for the Safe Communities Act in the statehouse, hoping for Governor Charlie Baker to declare Massachusetts a Sanctuary State. They have been shining a light over Lawrence saying, hey, look at the mighty city in the Merrimack Valley!
I am not writing to argue what is right or wrong, or agree or disagree, about the undocumented immigration status or whether the definition of sanctuary city violates any rights of any people or the federal government. I am not even stating whether the federal government has overreached their authority. And certainly, I am not stating whether the protection of undocumented people is right or wrong. I am just writing to say that it was stupid of our elected officials to publicly pick a fight by broadcasting it to the world in voting for an ordinance that was not needed.
It was a political stunt by all councilors and the Mayor. After all, all but one of those councilors who voted for the trust ordinance were Democrat politicians. And we know that it is Democrats that are for sanctuary cities and Republicans that are against it. Even the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice (who are supposedly representing Lawrence and other cities at no cost) are using the people of Lawrence, for their political stunt. It calls attention to their agency’s name just for namesake.
Now what the people of Lawrence can expect is more ICE officials pulling people over and asking for papers, possibly in the manner in which the Nazi did in Germany back in the 1940s. There will possibly be more federal officers on the streets of Lawrence arresting people for their immigration status. There will possibly be more work that the Lawrence Police Department (LPD) has to do and this extra work will take away from fighting the actual criminals (whether these criminals are documented or not) on our streets. Certainly, the threats of eliminating, canceling, postponing of funds associated with law enforcement are already stated by the Attorney General Sessions. Let the layoffs begin because that’s what will occur if the city is to take funds out of other departments to offsets shortfalls for the LPD based on funds or grants that will no longer come in from the federal government.
Hey people, this is what you vote for! Politicians that don’t think things through well; it’s all about them. When you bring sand to the beach……
ICE IS IN LAWRENCE – ALTHOUGH YOU WOULD NOT KNOW
Mayor Rivera and the City Council approved the Trust Ordinance supposedly to ensure that local law enforcement concentrates solely on local crimes and to not take resources for Immigration Customs Enforcement raids and arrest.
However, what Mayor Rivera does not tell you is that he has been working in cooperation with ICE. He does not know it, but he is. Here how he has placed immigrants in Lawrence in danger. Apart from announcing that the City of Lawrence is a sanctuary city (by approving an ordinance and publicizing that fact in the press), his law enforcement department has been collecting information that is doing harm to the immigrants.
Mayor Rivera instructed the Lawrence Police Department to run a check on every vehicle license plate of every vehicle that passes through the City of Lawrence streets. He demands this and on a monthly basis expects a report from the LPD on the number of plates that have been processed and checked. Those license plates check are kept in a data base with the names of the vehicle owners name and pertinent information. Your license plates are being checked, by an online system, as you are waiting for a traffic signal, parked in front of your home, shopping, driving, or while you are worshipping.
This is a way to track everyone all the time, regardless of whether they’re accused of any wrongdoing. LPD is using automatic cameras to read and snap digital photos or run checks of thousands of car license plates to help solve crimes, but in the process stores information on hundreds of innocent Lawrence residents. LPD license-plate scans on file and they have no policy for erasing those reports.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database and is utilizing this database to seek undocumented individuals in Lawrence and elsewhere. The American Civil Liberties Union states that license plate scanners are “in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases.”
The Verge magazine states that the system gives the ICE agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians. Vigilant Solutions, which is the company that has entered into contract with ICE, has amassed a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos and checks by ingesting data from partners like vehicle repossession agencies and other private groups and with local law enforcement agencies.
Many people in Lawrence are perplex, that on camera, Mayor Rivera seems to support his community by implying that he assists and supports undocumented immigration through the Trust Act. But his actions tell another story – how he is assisting the federal government in searching for undocumented immigrants. Knowing where someone lives is one thing, but this technology could also allow someone to pin-point where an individual works, shops, worships or goes to have fun — all information that someone, even a law-abiding citizen, may not want law enforcement to have in their records.
New Hampshire is the only state that has passed laws restricting police usage of license plate readers to specific circumstances.
According to an article published on Syracuse.com on March 23, 2014, “New Hampshire’s law, which only allows the cameras to be used on toll roads, is the most stringent in the country.” Also, in the State of Maine, records have to be deleted after 21 days.
A report on Vermont Public Radio on March 6, 2015 states that, “The ACLU actually think 24 hours is very reasonable. The reason that’s given for the use of these systems is to catch people for whom there are outstanding warrants, for people who may be lost, missing, and a [hot list] is developed every day and usually that data is good for that day.”
Here is the link to find more about how ICE and Vigilant Solutions are strategizing on behalf of their mission to arrest and send away dreamers.