New Bedford City Council Votes to Oppose ‘Sanctuary State’ Designation
The New Bedford City Council on Thursday voted 7-4 to go on record as opposing the Safe Communities Act, proposed legislation that would establish Massachusetts as a "sanctuary state."
The local vote registered opposition to House Bill 3573 and Senate Bill 1401. It puts the council at odds with New Bedford State Senator Mark Montigny, who in 2018 voted in favor of sanctuary state legislation. But it aligns them with Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump's anti-immigration policies.
Councilors Derek Baptiste, Deborah Coelho, Hugh Dunn and Maria Giesta voted "no" against the measure. Councilors Ian Abreu, Naomi Carney, Joe Lopes, Brian Gomes, Linda Morad, William Markey and Scott Lima voted "yes" to oppose the statewide sanctuary designation. The measure was co-sponsored by Lopes and Carney.
Among other things, the bill on Beacon Hill would prevent law enforcement officials from questioning people about their immigration status, and directs that police detainees may only be interviewed about their immigration status with their written consent. Police would not be allowed to notify federal immigration officials when someone is released from custody, unless they were released from prison.
The local vote comes as a ballot petition “to prevent Massachusetts from becoming a sanctuary state” failed to make the 2020 state ballot. The petition would have allowed local police to detain certain immigrants wanted for deportation by ICE, effectively doing an end-run around the Legislature.