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With all of the City’s attention focused on The Festival, a significant op-ed piece in last Firday’s Lowell Sun, written by Lowell Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee, did not receive the focus it deserves . In his article, titled “The role of police in immigration enforcement,” Lavallee clearly states the philosophy of the LPD on this particular issue:
When immigrant residents of Lowell are afraid to report crimes because they worry that contact with my officers could lead to deportation, criminals are allowed to roam free and the entire community suffers as a result. I will not let that happen. My officers and I believe that the best way to approach it is to work with the federal immigration authorities when a crime has been committed, but not to engage in civil immigration law enforcement.
Lavallee and his staff should be praised for making this public statement. The Superintendent referred to a recently released report by the Police Foundation on a study they conducted “to determine the proper balance of immigration enforcement, civil liberties and community safety.” According to the Police Superintendent, the report concludes that “Civil immigration enforcement by state and local police hurts the relationship between local police and their communities, because it chills crime victims from reporting information to the police.”
That is good news for Lowell, a community where 25% of the population is foreign born. I had some concerns a while back when I read in the Globe that ICE was forming relationships with local law enforcement departments.
And of course we had the ICE raid in Lowell last summer. ( I cannot link directly to the entire article that appeared in the Sunit already has been archived.) According to the opening paragraph of the Rob Mills’ article on the ICE raid “A dozen people across Lowell were arrested on immigration-related federal warrants during a 26-hour span ending last night…Lowell police referred questions about the arrests to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.” Those picked up on these warrants had prior criminal charges, not current or new ones. Some were here legally, others were not. Subsequent to the raid, there was a rally and vigil held in Lowell in support of the families whose husband/brother/son were arrested for “immigration violation.”
So if I understand correctly, the LPD will continue to enforce criminal immigrations laws [“aggressive in apprehending active criminals who are in the country illegally] but will not engage in enforcing civil immigration laws [“not responsible for checking the status of immigrants who have committed no crimes”]. This may not sit well with some anti-immigrant elements here and in other parts of the state but as the Superintendent stated in his concluding paragraph:
In Lowell, we’ve [LPD] worked hard to do our part to develop a community policing policy that works, so that we continue to be a vibrant city with a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world.
Nice job, chief!
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