The sanctuary city of Cambridge just passed a new law that protects undocumented immigrants from suffering federal repercussions if they are caught driving without a license. Massachusetts law requires everyone to have a license when operating a vehicle. However, Massachusetts also requires proof of legal status to acquire a driver’s license which forces many undocumented immigrants to drive illegally.
The Welcoming Community Ordinance law will prevent law enforcement from arresting undocumented immigrants for driving without a license and will instead give them a court summons. It’s part of an effort to protect undocumented immigrants from federal consequences such as deportation and detention. Moreover, it strengthens law enforcement and community ties.
City Council member Quinton Zondervan disclosed that the ordinance is meant to “protect our community members from a federal government that’s out of control” referring to the Trump administration’s brutal immigration policies. The ordinance states that it isn’t within the city’s scope to enforce federal immigration law upon Cambridge city residents.
The statute states “when taking action against a person who is found to be driving without a valid driver’s license… the Cambridge Police Department shall, whenever possible…if there is no other violation causing the person to be arrested, issue a summons to a court instead of taking the person into custody.” The law only protects undocumented immigrants in the absence of a driver’s license, it does not protect them if they break other laws of the road.
Additionally, the Cambridge Police Department has prohibited Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) officials from accessing individuals. This decision comes in the wake of ICE agents regularly waiting outside courthouses to apprehend undocumented immigrants appearing in court.
However, the new law states that “nothing in this ordinance shall be construed to violate any valid federal law, or to prohibit any Cambridge agency or department from providing another law enforcement agency citizenship, or information status.” Meaning that the Cambridge Police Department is still obliged to cooperate with federal human trafficking operation, ICE, judicial warrants, or court orders. Federal authorities will also still be entitled to access a person’s immigration status; however, court dates and home addresses will not be disclosed.