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Somebody is going to die. As a direct consequence of Newton’s decision to become a sanctuary(-lite) city, a brown person is going to kill a Newton resident. That’s the conclusion of Chair of the Newton Republican Committee, Tom Mountain, in a column posted on WickedLocal* (which will presumably be printed in this week’s TAB).

Update (2/28): Per Andy Levin, Mountain’s column will not appear in the TAB this week.

The column is irresponsible fear-mongering. As we learned over-and-over, when you demonize a group, some rootless person listens, is activated, and takes deadly action. This week a gunman asked two Indians about their visa status and shot them, killing one.

The column is ignorant. The available evidence suggests that sanctuary cities are safer, for the obvious reason that undocumented immigrants are far likelier to engage with the police if they aren’t worried the police are going to deport them, which makes it easier for the police to do their job well.

The column is exploitative. Mountain uses the 2011 tragedy of a Milford family — whose son, Matthew Denice, was killed in a gruesome crash by an Ecuadorian immigrant, Nicolas Guaman — to make the point that we need to fear brown immigrants. To be fair, the family is willing to be exploited, the mother having appeared on stage with Trump as an Angel Mom at the Republican National Convention last summer.

The column is flat wrong on the link between sanctuary city policy and Denice’s death. Mountain writes that the Guaman had previously been convicted for assault on a police officer. In fact, Guaman did not have a criminal record. There is no record of an incident that would have caused police to investigate Guaman’s immigration status.

The column is flat wrong on the politics and the policy. Mountain claims: “The Obama Administration had tied the hands of local and state police to prevent them from detaining or even reporting illegals to federal immigration authorities.” What Mountain is refering to, presumably**, is the federal Secure Communities program, a program initiated and piloted under the Bush (W.) administration. Under Secure Communities, local and state law enforcement run arrestee fingerprints through ICE databases, on top of FBI databases. The Bush administration recruited 14 local partners. Far from tying any hands, the Obama administration expanded the program to over a thousand jurisdictions. 

More importantly, because the connection to ICE begins with arrest processing, the Secure Communities program is irrelevant to Matthew Denice’s death.

When the Obama Administration came to the conclusion that the Secure Communities program was not effective in meeting its aim of reducing serious crime by undocumented immigrants, it shut down the program and shifted to prioritized deportations, focusing on serious criminals.

The Trump Administration has taken steps to revive the Secure Communities program and the president has issued an executive order relaxing the Obama administration’s focus on serious criminals and broadening the scope of immigrants the DHS can focus on to include immigrants with minor offenses or even no convictions. With a fixed number of current agents, broadening the scope inevitably means that enforcement efforts will target fewer and fewer serious criminals. (Adding more agents quickly is problematic, at best.)

Far from focusing on the so-called “bad hombres,” the Trump immigration policy gives immigration agencies incentive to round up not-dangerous undocumented immigrants with minor criminal records instead of the truly dangerous.

If Mountain is really interested in preventing death in the community, he could focus on the threatened repeal of the ACA, which is likely to lead to 40,000 more deaths per year. Or, he could call for investment in traffic safety. Death from vehicular-related crashes is up again for the second year in a row.

One suspects that making us safe is not Mountain’s objective. It’s keeping us white(r). Straight out of the handbook of racist demagoguery, Mountain is bringing attention to a single crime by a single person to demonize a disfavored group***.

Stirring up fear and hate. For shame.

*I don’t link to racist demagoguery. If you want to read it, you’ll have to find it yourself. Or look on your driveway tomorrow.
**I asked Mountain for clarification twice by email. He did not respond.
***h/t to @jbouie for the formulation.







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