By: Joe D’Amore – Nov. 2017
The City of Lawrence has placed wide swathes of the population at risk with its suit against the federal government in defending dubious principles of local sovereignty. It has joined the City of Chelsea in a nationwide trend of municipalities engaging in activism. Lawrence has a proud immigrant history, but that pride is based on immigrant’s thrift, sacrifice and conformity to laws.
I am an immigrant with a past of immigration problems. My family worked through a period of adversity and I became a naturalized citizen at age 18. We worked hard, contributed to our community and achieved the American Dream. This is the pathway that has brought honor to Lawrence.
The city has shockingly decided to pursue a mandate of social justice; that is to defend its “Trust Act”(Sanctuary status) at the expense of economic justice. Do its leaders have a contingency plan in the event they fail to prevail in their suit?
What’s at stake is that some of the poorest and “at-risk” residents in the Commonwealth; namely children, could be dramatically undercut in funding of programs that support basic needs. The federal government delivered $37.8 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30th. This money supports very well managed, city-run programs that deliver among other things, much needed food. There is widespread food insecurity in Lawrence and officials should be prioritizing the feeding of children over the defense of not cooperating with federal authorities over inquiries of illegal immigrants who are suspected of committing serious crimes.
Additionally, $15 million more for other programs administered by the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council assist at-risk families with heating subsidies (over 10,000) and day care for 700 children of the working poor among other things.
Finally, there is a particularly serious issue with addiction and homelessness in the city. There are veterans and American citizens who have fallen on hard times, that are living under bridges and roaming the streets without a definable path to access needed programs. Why doesn’t the city focus on them?
The leadership of the city should transfer the defending of lofty principles that are at odds with the economic security of its residents, to its congressional delegation. They should be lobbied to engage with the Trump administration to seek relief from perceived federal excesses over local authority. In doing so, there will be no threat of withdrawal of needed federal funds and the city can stay focused in their direct area of responsibility – the protection of its law-abiding residents.
Lawrence’s ill-conceived participation and overreach with municipalities engaging directly with federal authorities over a dispute can lead to disastrous consequences . It should be shuttered now.