Last month, President Trump accurately pointed out that because the City of Lawrence is considered a “sanctuary city” it attracts criminals who are here illegally, because they know they won’t be deported.
Within a day, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera held a press conference where he went into a predictable “defend my city” mode, denying Lawrence has the problem.
But, what he didn’t say is even more telling.
He didn’t say what he told the Valley Patriot last year, that Lawrence is NOT a “sanctuary city” but a “Trust Act City”. There is a difference.
A Sanctuary city is one where the police cannot notify federal officials when they arrest a violent felon who is here illegally.
A “Trust Act City” is one where the police can and do work with federal officials when a violent felon is arrested and found to be an illegal alien.
Why didn’t Rivera make that distinction in public? Especially when the whole world – including criminals – were watching?
Having the mayor make that distinction would go a long way towards discouraging criminals who think Lawrence is a safe haven for illegal alien drug dealers and violent gangs.
It’s clear Rivera cares about Lawrence and wants to help the city’s image, but that doesn’t happen when criminals flow into the city expecting to be protected from deportation, even if that’s not really the case. The term “sanctuary city” makes Lawrence a magnet for these criminals and Rivera needs to correct that.
Instead of Mayor Rivera and other officials obscuring the actual substance of what the president said, a more helpful response would have been to hold a press conference and say;
“YES! I agree with the president! Lawrence has a major drug distribution problem! And now that President Trump has adequately proven that he understands the problem, I challenge him to provide millions more in federal dollars to help us combat the massive drug and gang problem he talked about.”
That’s a win-win for everyone. Trump either has to put up or shut up.
We tell addicts all the time that admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it. That’s true about everything in life. If Lawrence officials would just admit that the city is the network hub for heroin and fentanyl distribution in Northern New England, it would give them the moral high ground to demand more help from the state and federal government.
This is not about being “mean to Lawrence” or picking on poor people. Pretending that it is, is dishonest and unhelpful.
On a much more positive note, Lawrence has seen a 45% reduction in violent crime in the last four months and it’s not because of the weather.
The State Police Gang Unit, the Lawrence Police Street Narcotics Unit, the State Police Fugitive Task Force, The State Police Gang Unit, and the amazing undercover work of the DEA and ICE have been draining the swamp of gangs and drug dealers since November.
They have shut down a dozen or more fentanyl labs. They have arrested and deported dozens of hard core drug dealers, rapists, gun merchants and killers.
They have applied pressure to street dealers, and cut off a major supply of heroin and fentanyl.
All of these things have resulted in fewer drug and gang related crimes in the neighborhoods of the city. That is what has spilled over to a reduction in assaults and robberies.
While we do not think Mayor Rivera’s response to the President’s remarks were helpful or appropriate, we also have to give him the lion’s share of the credit for the reduction in crime. He has hired a pro-active police chief, Roy Vasque, and is letting him do the job of fighting crime the way he sees fit.
We love Lawrence, and we are hoping this is the start of a more peaceful city.