Immigration in Cambridge

Currently in Cambridge

Did you know that Cambridge has been a sanctuary city since the 1985? (patch,, recent city statement)

While there is no set definition of sanctuary city, in general the term is used to refer to cities that don't allocate local resources to enforcing federal immigration policy. This can range from directing the police to not ask about immigration status, to barring police from sharing any information with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

This term has been in the news lately, as Attorney General Jefferson Sessions (and others in the Trump administration) ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities and threatened withholding federal funding. (npr, politico)

Cambridge, however, has not backed down from its public commitment to welcoming immigrants. In fact, since the last election, Cambridge has:

  • Reaffirmed its sanctuary city status (posting, statement)
  • Voted that Massachusetts should "withdraw from a federal customs enforcement training program that looks to tighten immigration enforcement state-wide" (harvard crimson and council meeting minutes)
  • Appointed long-time advocate Emmanuel "Manny" Lusardi as official 'Liaison for Immigrant Affairs'
  • Published a list of resources for immigrant residents
  • Considered (again) extending municipal-level voting to Cambridge's 18,000 resident immigrants (meeting minutes, meeting minutes)
  • Continued exploring municipal IDs (cambridge day, meeting minutes. Note: one of the authors of this site spoke during public comment at this meeting)

In May of this year, an Ecuadorian woman facing deportation and separation from her partner and two young children sought sanctuary in a Harvard Square church. The Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition supported the University Lutheran Church in taking in and providing resources and accompaniment for the young woman and her children. The group includes local congregations of several faiths as well as a Harvard Divinity School student group, and it offers space within the church, food resources, and legal representation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have generally refrained from arresting people within churches, leading to several cases nationwide of people fearing deportation moving into churches for protection. (Globe)

Could the city do more?
What do you think?
  • Could it establish public defender funds for a Cambridge resident facing immigration charges?
  • Cambridge has considered allowing immigrant residents to vote in local elections for years - can the council push the state legislature more to finally get this home-rule petition approved?
  • Similarly, 2017 is not the first time municipal IDs have been explored. What would it take to make them a safe and welcoming reality?

If you're interested in immigration, you may also want to check out the housing topic - after all, the most welcoming policies in the world won't help an immigrant family who cannot afford to live here.

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