Working Conditions, Safe Communities Act, and Real ID Act Key Discussion Points at Immigration Forum

FRAMINGHAM – The League of Women Voters of Framingham gathered speakers from Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), MetroWest Immigrant Solidarity Network, American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA), New England Chapter, and the Framingham Police Department for a community discussion on immigration last night at the Brazilian-American Center in Framingham.

Caryn Sigurdson from the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, was asked about Safe Communities Act and the REAL ID Act, at the start of the event.

Sigurdson said she has “seen a lot of support for: the Safe Communities Act, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge.

“Law enforcement has been supportive,” she said. “Immigration attorneys have been in support of it. I believe this will prevent immigration authorities from contracting our local law enforcement authorities.”

As for the REAL ID Act, Sigurdson said she believes “we haven’t seen yet the problems from the new law, but we are expecting the problems to arise.”

The intersectionality between immigration issues and labor rights was a key discussion point for Diego Low, from the MetroWest Immigrant Solidarity Network.

If you are concerned about the wages and the working conditions of the whole community, we have to sustain the rights of the most vulnerable to defend themselves,” said Low, told the audience of about 20 people.

Framingham Police Chief Steve Trask discussed the Police Department’s involvement in regards to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent operations in the City.

He reiterated the Department’s official policy: “Enforcing federal immigration law is not the mission of the Framingham Police Department.”

“We want folks who are in our community to feel free to call the police department if they are the victim of a crime or who are a witness to a crime,” said Chief Trask.

Marion Davis, the Communications Director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, spoke about human compassion and took a stance against nationality being the red line of compassion.

Some audience members disrupted her speaking, claiming she is ignoring the impacts of mass-immigration.  This resulted in a lengthy conversation surrounding the issue of immigration within the United States.

Davis reitterated “Every country has a right to manage entry into its country. When you set up a system that deliberately counts on people coming in without documentation and then takes advantage of them, that is when it becomes a problem.”

District 7 Framingham City Councilor Margareth Shepard, after the event, told Framingham Source, “We are human beings. We want a solution. We have to find a way that we as a community to make our community hear this.” 

President of the League of Women Voters, Framingham Chapter, Stephanie Deeley, said she thinks “it was a wonderful start to opening a dialogue in the community of Framingham about issues everyone has an opinion on. A bunch of what was said tonight was correct about the fact that any kind of change has to come from the federal government, but meanwhile, we have to find a way to manage within our own community.”

Deeley told SOURCE this was the first of many similar events, and a second forum on immigration will likely happen following the fall elections.

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Photo by Jake Binnall

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