In a move to shield illegal immigrants from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, a new law passed by the city council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, instructs police not to arrest illegal immigrants who are caught driving without a license.
The law, called the "Welcoming Community Ordinance," was unanimously passed by the council and is set to be added to the city's municipal code, WFXT-TV reported.
Under the ordinance, Cambridge police are now directed to summons unlicensed drivers rather than arrest them. If an unlicensed driver is arrested, they would be subject to fingerprinting, which in turn would create a record accessible to federal immigration enforcement agents. A court summons, on the other hand, makes it more difficult for ICE to track down the individual.
"We need to protect our community members from a federal government that's out of control," said Quinton Zondervan, a Cambridge City Council member. "There are no other reasons for the police to arrest someone, give them a court summons instead, which keeps them out of the clutches of the Trump administration."
"Our federal government right now, their official policy is to throw people in cages and abuse and torture them, in some cases letting them die," Zondervan added. "So I do not want any cooperation with that federal government policy in our law."
According to Laura Rótolo, staff counsel and community advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Cambridge had already been operating under these guidelines as a "sanctuary city," but the new law serves to solidify its actions.
"My understanding is that this ordinance basically codifies what the city was already doing," Rótolo said. "But it's very important to do that, for policy to be in writing and for them to be public so that everybody knows about them and that immigrants can feel trust in their local agencies. And it sends a strong message, both in Cambridge and beyond, that we value immigrants and that everyone does better when we have these policies in place."
Under the new guidelines, Cambridge police will also be prohibited from inquiring about a person's immigration status or initiating an investigation based on a person's immigration status, and will be severely limited in assisting with federal immigration enforcement operations.