Residents and City Officials in Chelsea, MA Declare Immigrants Still Welcome There

Print Share on LinkedIn More

November 9, 2016; Boston Globe

Here is the blueprint for President-elect Trump’s immigration reform policy. On Thursday afternoon, Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, told a Topeka television station, “I’m a member of the immigration policy transition team, and there’s going to be a lot to do there, in part because Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama are diametrical opposites when it comes to immigration policy, so there will be a lot of changes.” Salon provides this profile of the nation’s leading “anti-immigrant zealot.”

Here is an at-a-glance list of the immigration reform pledges from President-Elect Trump’s website:

  1. Build a wall on the southern border.
  2. End catch-and-release.
  3. Zero tolerance for criminal aliens.
  4. Block funding for sanctuary cities.
  5. Cancel unconstitutional executive orders & enforce all immigration laws.
  6. Suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur.
  7. Ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.
  8. Finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.
  9. Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet.
  10. Reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers.

Not listed here are Trump’s campaign pledges, including the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and the total “ban” on Muslims entering the country.

Chelsea is a city of nearly 37,000 residents located directly across the Mystic River from Boston. Chelsea is a sanctuary city; 44 percent of its residents are immigrants. The Boston Globe interviewed its residents and leaders about the election and found sorrow, fear and resistance.

On Wednesday, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said Chelsea has no intention of helping deport immigrants who haven’t committed any crimes.

“We’re not interested whether you’re documented or undocumented as long as you’re here trying to do what’s right,” he said in an interview in his City Hall office. “We’re happy to have you as part of our community. And this election changes nothing.” But he acknowledged that Chelsea is powerless to stop federal immigration officials from arresting immigrants in the city.

“You can imagine in a community like Chelsea what this means,” said Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, a nonprofit that aids immigrants. “This morning I’ve been in bakeries and bodegas crying with people.… People are in a panic.”

One of Trump’s campaign pledges was to terminate President Obama’s executive action granting reprieves from deportation to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children and are now young adults. The Boston Globe reports that as of June, 741,546 people nationwide have received a reprieve from deportation under Obama’s program.

“There’s real fear right now,” said Conrado Santos, lead coordinator of the Student Immigrant Movement and who obtained a work permit under Obama’s program. “But we are going to build community and we’re going to protect each other and we’re going to protect our families. We’re going to fight back. We’re not going to go easy.”

—James Schaffer