By William Tauro
The Somerville News Weekly is going to offer a complete lobster dinner for 10 people, a $500 value at the Mount Vernon Restaurant in Somerville, to the first person that can prove to us that Somerville is still legally a documented sanctuary city since 1989.
This offer will be valid with an ending date on March 13th, 2017 since we had 30 years to figure it out in the first place.
And if it cannot be proven, well, forever hold your peace!
IS SOMERVILLE REALLY A SANCTUARY CITY OR NOT? OR IS IT A 30 YEAR OLD BLUFF!
By William Tauro
Fact is, based on what we have been able to uncover, that Somerville is no longer a Sanctuary City and hasn’t been legally designated a sanctuary city since 1989. If Somerville is a Sanctuary City, will someone please show us proof of this? Until then, we contend that Somerville is no longer a Sanctuary City and it hasn’t been for quite some time. Since 1989, to be exact.
In our under the radar investigation and discussions with several sources who have been in positions of authority over the years, we have discovered that on April 23, 1987, then Alderman John Buonomo, along with eight other of the eleven sitting Aldermen submitted a resolution making Somerville a Sanctuary City. After the members voted to approve, the resolution was sent to then Mayor Eugene C Brune. This led to a serious discussion between Mayor Brune and the City of Somerville Law Department as to the legality of the resolution. Mayor Brune was concerned that he, along with the Board of Aldermen, might be violating their Oath of Office – specifically pertaining to supporting the Constitution of the United States. Before Mayor Brune signed the resolution, he had the Law Department write into the resolution that it would no longer be in effect after December 31, 1989. At that time, Mayor Brune did not know if he would be running for a sixth term, and he felt that it would not be fair to the next Mayor or any new Aldermen to be put in a questionable legal position.
In a Somerville News article dated October 15, 2007, it stated that in 1989, the Somerville Board of Aldermen extended the resolution indefinitely. Our research shows that not to be true, as there is no record of any extension made at that time. I was also told that you cannot merely extend a resolution that has a time limit – that a new resolution would need to be made and voted on with a new time period. This same article stated that Buonomo claimed that in the 1990’s, the ordinance (note: he incorrectly stated that it was an ordinance, but in fact is was only a resolution) was repealed and replaced with a “Safe City Resolution.”
At face value, one would have to wonder if the Mayor at that time or the Aldermen were a bit hesitant to call it Sanctuary City for legal reasons, so they wanted to now have Somerville be a “Safe City.”
In any case, there is no evidence that this ordinance or resolution was even voted on. In going over records and discussions with people close to the Mayoral Administrations since Mayor Brune (consisting of Mayors Capuano, Roache, Gay and Curtatone), no record of any such ordinance/resolution reinstating or extending Somerville as a Sanctuary City or designating it as a “Safe City” could be found.
When listening to the speech given by Mayor Curtatone at the One Somerville Sanctuary City Rally on the steps of City Hall this past week, I recall him stating that the city is continuing on with the Board of Aldermen resolution that Mayor Brune signed nearly thirty years ago. This struck me as strange, as there doesn’t seem to be any proof that the resolution still stands today, legally.
So, if Mayor Brune did not intend for the resolution to continue beyond his term in office and left it for future Mayors and the Board of Aldermen to decide whether or not to continue the status as a Sanctuary City and there is no proof that this was done in any way, then Somerville is not legally a Sanctuary City. All these years have gone by since 1989, and none of the administrations since then (including the current administration) knows whether Somerville is legally a Sanctuary City or not remains to be seen. And proven. Maybe it was all just a big bluff and someone somewhere knew that for almost 30 years we have been riding on the back of the original resolution, which expired in 1989. Unless someone since this time can come forward and produce proof that somehow the original resolution was extended or a new one was voted on, then Somerville’s legal status as a Sanctuary City is nothing but a myth.
This is actually a good thing, because when President Trump’s administration, at some point, decides to come after Somerville’s federal funding or decides to play games with the GLX funding, all someone has to do is tell him to check out the facts – the Somerville, legally, isn’t a Sanctuary City after all. Unless of course, someone can produce proof to the contrary.
Makes you wonder who knew what, and when – doesn’t it?
Definition of a Sanctuary City: In the United States and Canada, a sanctuary city is a municipality that has adopted a policy of protecting unauthorized immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws and by ensuring that all residents have access to city services, regardless of immigration status. Such a policy can be set out expressly in a law or observed only in practice. The term applies generally to cities that do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce national immigration laws. The cities usually forbid their police or municipal employees to inquire about a person’s immigration status or share such information with immigration enforcement. The designation has no precise legal meaning.
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