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Immigration and Customs Enforcement Challenges Cambridge's 'Sanctuary City' Status

By Joshua J. Florence, Crimson Staff Writer

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has listed Cambridge an “uncooperative jurisdiction” for refusing to comply with federal requests to detain individuals for possible deportation.

President Donald Trump ordered the creation of the Weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Report in January as part of an executive order on immigration. Its first edition, released Monday, lists approximately 100 cities, towns, counties, and agencies across the nation that choose to be “non-cooperative” with agents from the Department of Homeland Security as they seek to identify and deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Cambridge is listed as one of five uncooperative municipalities in Massachusetts—including neighboring Somerville and Boston—which “will not honor ICE detainer[s]”. The report cites a 2014 City Council resolution that reaffirmed Cambridge’s status as a “sanctuary city”—a label it adopted in 1985—and put limits on the city’s compliance with ICE detainer requests.

Despite Trump’s repeated pledges to more aggressively enforce immigration laws and withdraw funds from “sanctuary cities,” Cambridge has refused to drop the label.

Cambridge lawmakers have not held back criticism of the Trump administration in recent months, point to deep-seated differences between the president’s policies and Cambridge’s values.

Cambridge City Hall.
Cambridge City Hall. By Jessica C. Salley

Earlier this year, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale promised to steer clear of what they called Trump’s “misguided and un-American” policies in the annual State of the City address.

Earlier this month, the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to support calls from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts for the state to withdraw from a federal customs enforcement training program that looks to tighten immigration enforcement statewide.

While the City of Cambridge has embraced the title of sanctuary city, University President Drew G. Faust has said she will not declare Harvard a “sanctuary campus,” arguing that the label puts undocumented students at further risk.

—Staff writer Joshua J. Florence can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFlorence1.

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