New Bedford Councilors Call Coelho Immigration Motion Vague and Fear-Based
A motion requesting state legislators to oppose any future mass deportations of illegal immigrants was easily shot down in the New Bedford City Council Tuesday night.
Councilor at Large Debora Coelho presented the motion, citing her concerns over the aftermath of the Michael Bianco factory raid in the city in 2007, and President-Elect Donald Trump's strong opposition to illegal immigration.
Ward Six Councilor Joe Lopes tells WBSM News the fear of a Trump administration in regards to illegal immigration is unfounded when compared to President Obama's deportation record. "Between 2009 and 2015, he's deported 2.5 million people. He was nicknamed the 'Deporter in Chief," said Lopes. "But that wasn't mentioned. I think part of the issue tonight was people were fearful of who was elected in November and what's going to happen in January without putting all of the facts out there."
The motion failed overwhelmingly, 9-2.
Following the meeting, Councilor Coelho told WBSM News she was thrilled the council discussed the matter in-depth, saying her motion showed forward-thinking ahead of any possible federal policy changes from the Trump administration. "If anything should change, as we know laws and ordinances and policies change, so I just wanted to make sure that if the changes do come about that we are alert," said Coelho. Coelho argued for passage of the motion during the debate, saying "Our country was founded on illegals."
Councilor at Large Brian gomes called the motion "vague" and that it "scares the hell" out of peaceful immigrants in the community. Councilor Gomes tells WBSM News when it comes to the law, there is no grey area with him. "You either come here with a green card or you come here legally. If you're not here with those two pieces of paper in some form or fashion you are here illegally," said Gomes flatly. Gomes says he would be interested to hear solutions for illegal immigrants that pose no threat to public safety.
For now, Gomes suggested that the council "wait and see what the federal government has planned."