By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
For the second time in less than a month, local immigrant support organizations and the families they serve filled the Everett Council Chamber on Monday night to ask the Council to help protect local immigrant residents living and working in the city legally.
The Council obliged, kind of, sending a highly anticipated resolution of support to committee – a document that many in the crowded chamber expected to pass with flying colors that night.
It was sent to committee when Councilor Fred Capone invoked what is known as Rule 18, which if invoked, requires resolutions to be sent to committee before approved.
More than 100 people filled the chamber, as a half-dozen speakers shared stories of their plight, including one young man in a wheelchair who shared his fears of being sent to his native country. Everett State Sen. Sal DiDomenico spoke in favor of supporting the city’s immigrant families, noting the detrimental impact to children of these families,
“This is very important to families in our community,” he said, urging the Council to act.
DiDomenico, who recently returned to Everett from a legislative trip to Washington, D.C., said that officials he spoke to the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security had revealed the federal government “has no plan” for how to address these families who are being impacted by policy changes made under President Donald Trump’s administration.
The Council, for its part, referred two separate motions for resolutions to subcommittees, in an effort to address the concerns voiced by the residents.
The first resolution was offered by Council President Anthony DiPierro and sought an affirmative vote to support local residents with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and those in the country under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The resolutions, if adopted, “would send a message” that the City of Everett stands behind its immigrant families, who live, work and pay taxes in the city.
Due to Council rules on resolutions, the motion must first be taken up by the Council Subcommittee on Legislative Affairs, before it can be taken up for a vote by the full body.
Council President DiPierro told the crowd the Council would schedule the resolution for an upcoming subcommittee meeting in an effort to address the issue at its next full meeting in December.
The Chelsea City Council unanimously passed the same resolution last Monday, Nov. 20, during its regular meeting after hearing testimony from several established residents there about what the repeal of TPS would do to them.
The federal government announced this month that TPS status for Haitians and Nicaraguans would be rescinded. TPS for those from other countries, such as El Salvador, is still up in the air. For the 60,000 or so Haitians who are affected by the TPS order, many that came to Everett after the devastating earthquake there in 2010, they have 18 months to leave the country or seek another immigration status.
DACA was ruled upon earlier this year, when the Trump Administration gave Congress six months to find a permanent solution to the situation – as the current DACA program is only a Obama-era Presidential Executive Order. The U.S. Congress has not passed a permanent program to replace DACA, but legislation has been drawn up and considered.
The second resolution, offered by Councilor Fred Capone, seeks to begin a discussion between the local immigrant community, its supporters and the Everett Police Department. Local immigrants have indicated they “don’t feel safe in the city,” and Capone said he would like the Council to address those concerns.
That resolution was referred to the Subcommittee on Public Safety for an upcoming meeting.