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Will the City Council officially make New Bedford a sanctuary city?


Three New Bedford city councilors are pushing to add undocumented workers (or “illegals” as they have called them) to a protected class when it comes to discrimination. This seems to be the beginning steps of making New Bedford an official sanctuary city and risking a confrontation with a President-elect Trump who has promised to cut of federal funding to sanctuary cities. 

When it comes to legislation and motions every word matters. On Tuesday, November 22, 2016, Councillors Coelho, Oliveira and Rebeiro are scheduled to put forward this motion:

“WRITTEN MOTION, Councillors Coelho, Oliveira and Rebeiro, requesting, that our State Legislative Delegation join us and other communities across the Country and not deport masses of illegals in order to insure harmony and safety in our community and to not discriminate against a group of people.”

In their words, they want our State legislators to call it discrimination to deport someone living in New Bedford illegally. This doesn’t seem to be sitting well with many people. Most people on our Facebook discussion thread seem to oppose this and on our Twitter poll nearly 70% oppose it.

Why would something so unpopular be pushed officially in the New Bedford City Council chambers?

The most obvious reason is that Donald Trump was elected President and this is a clear knee jerk political reaction against his potential immigration policy. Across the country Hillary Clinton supporters are holding anti-Trump protests, hosting high school and college walk outs and politicians are pushing to protect residents in America “illegally” by creating sanctuary cities. 

A sanctuary city is a designation given to cities that adopt a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws. Some 32 American cities have pushed for this designation to include Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Seattle.

New Bedford has always quietly been an unofficial sanctuary city. Walk into any seafood processing plant on the New Bedford waterfront and you’ll see evidence of this claim. Scallops are being processed by some of the hardest working men and women in America, here legally and illegally. 

But now three New Bedford City Councilors seem to be pushing towards an official designation by going on record. That wouldn’t mean much under President Obama, but could hurt New Bedford under a Trump administration.  New Bedford relies on state and federal grants for our schools, historic park, fire department personnel and a lot of construction projects. President-elect Trump has already stated that he would block federal funding for sanctuary cities.

I’m not pushing a message for or against New Bedford being a sanctuary city. We have been an unoffical sanctuary city for decades and I know our fishing industry relies on hard working undocumented workers. But why get Trump’s attention? Why not continue to fly under the radar? Why play political chicken with a President Trump? 

Regardless if you are for or against calling for “illegals” to be protected against deportation, your voice can be heard at the New Bedford City Council chambers on Tuesday, November 22nd, or you can call or email your City Council members here

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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  1. What part of illegal don’t you understand. This is why the city of New Bedford never gets anything good to come to city. You waste taxpayer monies on foolish projects, like Washington square, where you spent monies to build replica of the house that once stood there then turn around and put a park. You now want to keep illegals. in the city. Time to drain the swamp many of you have held your position for far to long.

    • What part of human being don’t you understand! They came for the illegal immigrants but I was not illegal so I did nothing. Then they came for the African Americans, Muslims, Jews, Cape Verdeans but I was none of them so I did nothing, soon they will come for me and no one will be left to do anything. Paraphrased from. A well known poem about Nazie Germany! United we stand!

  2. The Feds are going to go after criminals. It is not certain what they will do about law-abiding citizen’s that are living here illegally, but have not broken any other laws.This is a political move that will make New Bedford a magnet for more illegals, some possibly the criminal element that should concern these politicians . After all the years of this city trying to change its image and attract tourists and businesses, this political move would undermine all the work that was done to achieve those goals. Get off your little soapbox and do something constructive for your city.

  3. Coelho, rebeiro, and Oliveira better remember they will be up for re election… stop usurping the will of the American people. Illegal immigration hurts our elderly, our school children, our homeless vets, and our lower working class. CriminalS such as gang bangers should not be able to hide from the law. Political elite, stop acting like you know what’s better for us because you don’t!

  4. Michael: “I’m not pushing a message for or against New Bedford being a sanctuary city”. Yet instead of simply using a term you prefer, undocumented as opposed to “illegals”, you highlight that throughout what you penned. Trump’s election was a “Clear knee-jerk reaction” and “New Bedford has always quietly been a sanctuary city.” The presentation of your piece is slanted and it’s much more productive to state facts and not opinions in asking for honest replies. Your bias aside – it would be foolish to claim New Bedford a sanctuary city if, for no other reason, we cannot afford any reduction in funding from any agency. Purely from a policy perspective it should not happen. The other side of the argument is not a part of what must be considered. There is a human side all of us must feel and understand about all people, whether they be “illegal” or “legal”. If we claim this status, we are cutting off funds, perhaps because of our anger, or our protest in support of these people, but we hurt everyone if we do so, legal, undocumented, white, black, brown, green or purple. Rather than attempt to allay fears by the designation, we can come together as a city in protest of non-felony, criminal deportation – addressing the gang bangers you mentioned. We can stand together & keep families together – we can organize and work with local churches to help people. However, we can’t cut off our collective noses to spite our face losing untold millions to prove a point. Does the city take a hard line in, in essence dare the incoming administration to cut off funding? I don’t think it’s a road we want to travel, and certainly only adds to hostilities.

  5. Councilor Gomes said it best:

    “The law is the law.”

    By definition, people who come here illegally are criminals. Am i saying deport them all? No. But if you break the law (again) you should be on a plane back to wherever you came from.

    If you are one of the hard working recently law-abiding (since breaking the law coming here) there should be a path to legal citizenship.

    Register them all, those on the path, registration is the first step. If you’re caught and are’t registered, sayonara….

    That way those who claim to want to stay here legally and work can show that by being registered and being checked up on to make sure they’re on track to be naturalized.

    Those who want the free ride, can get a free ride back home.

    You people want to preach humanity?
    Google stories about what Australia does to illegals.
    We should have open borders? Google info about Mexico and Canada and becoming citizens of either country.

    All of you idiots threatening to move to Canada if Trump was elected, bet you felt stupid when you went to the website and realized you COULDN’T move to Canada.

  6. So, by ‘under the radar’, I assume you mean break the law?

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