Petition of TMM-9 Martin Rosenthal and TMM-4 Frank Farlow, et al.
Contact telephone number: 617-738-6621, e-mail address martyros@theworld.com

ARTICLE , November 2006 Town Meeting

To see if the Town will adopt the following:

RESOLUTION Reaffirming Sanctuary Status for Undocumented Immigrants:

WHEREAS: The Town of Brookline has been built and enriched by generations of immigrants, and has a proud history since November, 1985, as a Sanctuary for refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti;

WHEREAS: There are now approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who have been systematically denied the opportunity enjoyed by past generations of immigrants to become legal permanent residents or citizens of this country; 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;

WHEREAS: While borders have been closed off to people over the past two decades, they have been simultaneously opened up to trade and capital; these same “free trade” economic policies have increased poverty and decreased opportunities for people to make a dignified living and support their families;

WHEREAS: In 2005, record numbers of migrants seeking to support their families, with no means to migrate safely into the USA, perished in the desert along the US-Mexico border, while countless others died in the journey; and the migration experience has adverse emotional and psychological effects on families, kept apart for many years due to unjust immigration policies and backlogs in visa applications; and undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable to workplace abuses and housing discrimination;

WHEREAS: Current US immigration policy does not reflect the standards of Brookline residents regarding what is just, humane and moral; and both undocumented and documented immigrants in the U.S. fuel our economy and those of their countries of origin;

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 the US Senate has been considering a companion bill 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 the erosion of cherished legal traditions such as due process; and the US Senate is also considering guest worker programs that would create a second-class citizenry without basic rights, disenfranchised and vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers;

WHEREAS: Much public discourse surrounding immigration has taken a tone ranging from irrational to racist, including the pejorative use of terms like “illegal” and “alien” to describe immigrants, with a dehumanizing effect that helps to justify policies criminalizing and excluding immigrants;

WHEREAS: Raids 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;

WHEREAS: Following the raids in April of this year, the US Homeland Security Secretary announced plans to intensify 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: Numerous cities, including Maywood, Huntington Park, and Coachella, CA have recently declared themselves Sanctuary Cities, and cities from Cambridge MA (May 8, 2006) to Chicago and San Francisco have reaffirmed their earlier commitments as Sanctuaries,

THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED THAT:

1. The Town of Brookline reaffirms its commitment as a Sanctuary Town, as declared by Town Meeting in November, 1985, and expands it now to include all undocumented immigrants from all countries;*

2. The Town endorses the platform of the Keep Our Families Together Campaign, an initiative of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities that seeks to (a) enable immigrants who currently live and work in the United States to obtain Permanent Resident status and have the option to apply for citizenship; (b) increase the number of visas available in the quota system with a preference for family unification; (c) establish a limit of no more than six months for the processing and resolution of immigration applications; (d) facilitate the integration and participation of immigrants into the political, social and economic life of this country; and (e) enable future immigrants to enter the United States under a legal system that is just and respectful of human rights;

3. The Town calls upon the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to declare a moratorium on immigrant raids, at least 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;

4. The Town affirms the basic human rights and dignity of every human being;

5. The Town 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;

6. The Town of Brookline urges the US Senate to defeat HR 4437 and urges the President to veto such legislation if approved by the Senate; and

7. The Town Clerk shall forward a copy of this resolution on behalf of the Town of Brookline to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and to the President of the United States.
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fn. * The operative 1985 language “RESOLVED THAT:

“the Town of Brookline become a sanctuary for refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti, and that they shall be afforded all rights and privileges offered and supplied to all people residing or working in the Town;

“it is the policy of the Town that, to the extent legally possible, no department or employee of the Town will violate established or future sanctuaries by officially assisting or voluntarily cooperating with investigations or arrest procedures, public or clandestine, relating to alleged violations of immigration law by refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala or Haiti or by those offering sanctuary;

“the Town supports and appreciates its residents who may provide bedding, food, health and other settlement assistance, as well as friendship to refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti; and the Town will not participate in any form in the compounding of injustice against these refugees or in the Federal Government’s persecution of those who in good faith offer humanitarian assistance to these refugees;

“the Town supports all efforts intended to provide free, effective legal representation for any person residing in Massachusetts who is seeking asylum in the U.S. because of fear of persecution in his or her homeland, including Mass. Senate Bill #1063 sponsored by Senator Jack Backman.”

or act on anything relative thereto.
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EXPLANATION

Resolution Reaffirming Sanctuary Status for Undocumented Immigrants

This “speaking” Resolution is largely is self-explanatory, especially the “Resolved” clauses. For the sake of both consistency and political impact, the text is closely modeled on that passed by the Cambridge City Council on May 8, 2006.

We the undersigned registered voters of Brookline hereby petition and request that the above Resolution be placed on the warrant for the November 2006 Special Town Meeting.

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