Mayor Curtatone Promises Somerville Will Remain “A Sanctuary For All”

joe curtatoneMayor Curtatone photographed by Jess Benjamin for the July/August 2016 issue of Scout Somerville.

Following President Trump’s announcement Wednesday that he intends to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities throughout the country, Mayor Joe Curtatone addressed the public at City Hall regarding Somerville’s sanctuary status.

In his remarks, he vowed that the city would not waver in its commitment to protecting its citizens, doubling down on earlier promises to stand by the immigrant community. 

“Since the election, our phones have been ringing off the hook,” Curtatone began. “We’ve heard from parents who fear they will be rounded up while their young children wait for them at home.”

He said that the concern was not limited to immigrants, and that he and his staff have been fielding calls from other marginalized groups, including women and members of the LGBTQ community.

“The message I want to send to those whose confidence has been shaken in this city is this: Our city, Somerville, Massachussetts, will not waver … Somerville will stand with you, regardless of your race, creed, color, gender, nationality, legal status, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Curtatone said.

He affirmed that the city would, regardless of President Trump’s decision to pull funding, remain a sanctuary city.

The Mayor went on to address misconceptions about sanctuary cities. Somerville has been a sanctuary city since 1987, he said, and the crime rate has dropped 52.9 percent over the last 30 years. He added that Somerville’s crime rates are lower than the national average and that one-third of residents are authorized, legal immigrants.

“These are our neighbors,” Curtatone said. “Their kids go to school with our children.”

He also noted that the city does not break laws or harbor criminals, adding that no one who commits a crime “gets a free pass” and that he would cooperate with federal officials if and when that was necessary.

Curtatone said he was unsurprised by Trump’s plan to cut funding to sanctuary cities, as they mirror remarks made during this campaign. He said Somerville receives between $5 and $6 million in federal aid each year, money that goes to fund free and reduced lunches, programs supporting veterans and seniors and other initiatives that support the city’s vulnerable populations.

Curtatone said that the efforts to protect immigrants would be bigger than Somerville or even Boston (where Mayor Marty Walsh echoed this commitment to stand by immigrant populations in separate remarks Wednesday). He said he was hopeful that President Trump would look at the statistics in Somerville and in the other roughly 300 sanctuary cities nationwide, opening his heart and mind to the people these cuts could impact.

“Our hope is that once our new president reviews accurate information, he will not cut this funding,” Mayor Curtatone said.

You can listen to Mayor Curtatone’s remarks in full below.

Kate Douglas contributed reporting to this piece.

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