Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Northampton City Council shows support for undocumented immigrants

The resolution was presented to the town on March 15

By Mack Cooper, Collegian Staff

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As the ongoing immigration battle surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals continues in Washington, D.C., the Northampton City Council and the Pioneer Valley Workers Center teamed up to voice their support through a resolution, for the community’s undocumented immigrants, and Temporary Protected Status/DACA recipients.

The resolution called for an extension of the TPS and to uphold DACA, which President Trump abolished in June of 2017. The resolution is meant to show the will of the city council and does not impact the current laws surrounding TPS or DACA.

The resolution was sponsored by Northampton city council members Marianne LaBarge of Ward 6 and James Nash of Ward 3 and Councilor-at-large William H. Dwight, who collaborated with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, to write the resolution.

Councilor LaBarge said that she was “so proud of the resolution” and that it showed the supportiveness of Northampton.

“Immigrants are part of the community, they are part of us,” LaBarge said.

City Council President Ryan O’Donnell also expressed his gratitude to the citizens of city for supporting the resolution and progressive causes in general.

“Northampton has a longstanding commitment to issues like this,” Councilor O’Donnell said.

The city council teamed up the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, an immigrant advocacy group that operates out of Northampton, to write the language of the resolution. According to lead organizer Diana Sierra, the PVWC helped the city council with the resolution after reading the first draft of the document. Sierra claims that the original resolution simply showed support for TPS and the PVWC helped to “expand the focus to DACA and all undocumented immigrants.”

Sierra, who said that the city council and the PVWC spent roughly a month collaborating and writing the resolution, credited the PVWC with “making the resolution more robust with more powerful language.”

While the resolution makes no changes to any laws regarding immigration at all three levels of government, local, state and federal, the resolution was seen by many as a symbolic victory, and a show of support for undocumented immigrants in the community.

O’Donnell said that the resolution was “in response to an attack by the federal government on member of our community” and that the city “wanted to send a message.”

Additionally, LaBarge stated that she is “highly against what the President is doing,” and that the resolution further cemented Northampton’s commitment to keeping immigrants in the community included and safe.

Sierra said they recognized the symbolic value of the resolution but she said it also marked a shift in attitude and tone. The resolution was presented to the town in an open meeting on March 15. Many immigrants shared their stories and their current fears surrounding the federal government.

“It takes a shift in confidence for undocumented immigrants to share their stories and to make themselves known, especially in front of elected officials,” Sierra said

While the resolution was a powerful symbol and support mechanism, LaBarge, O’Donnell and Sierra all believe that more can be done. All three expressed support for Northampton’s designation as a sanctuary city, or a city that doesn’t collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“I will say it again, we are a sanctuary city,” Councilor LaBarge said.

But Sierra said that much more can be done to ensure equality for immigrants, calling for state legislation that would provide undocumented immigrants with the ability to obtain a driver’s license, punish businesses that exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them less than minimum wage and declaring Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

“You can’t just throw a resolution at ICE and expect them to go away,” Sierra said.

While the resolution can’t make these types of changes legally, Sierra did say that it was an “important symbolic victory” for the immigrants of Northampton.

More than anything, the resolution was a massive show of support for the city’s undocumented immigrants and TPS/DACA recipients and recognition of events unfolding on the national scale.

“It is not human to treat people like this,” LaBarge said, referring to the wave of news stories and reports of ICE splitting up families and deporting hardworking people.

“The federal government trying to tear apart families is wrong,” Councilor O’Donnell said. “When there is injustice we need to stand up and call it out.”

Mack Cooper can be reached at [email protected]

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Northampton City Council shows support for undocumented immigrants”

  1. NITZAKHON on March 30th, 2018 6:18 am

    I wonder… what will they do for those illegals’ victims?

  2. Ben on March 30th, 2018 10:59 pm

    And by “undocumented immigrants” I assume you mean the propagandistic, euphemistic term often substituted for the actual term which is illegal alien.

    I will say it again, we are a sanctuary city,” Councilor LaBarge said.

    Yeah, the southern states tried nullification almost 200 years ago. It’s still unconstitutional. Someone arrest this lawless rogue for obstruction of justice.

  3. R on April 1st, 2018 7:40 pm

    they aren’t aliens, they are human beings.
    it’s a dehumanizing term and you know it.

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