On Feb. 21, a number of Beacon residents attended a meeting of the City Council to ask that legislators designate Beacon as a sanctuary city. As in other locales across the country, Beacon would instruct the police department not to participate in immigration dragnets by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
One resident cited analysis of FBI data by a professor at the University of California at San Diego that showed counties designated as sanctuaries have significantly lower crime rates. In such areas, vulnerable residents appear more likely to turn to police for protection, to report crimes and to serve as witnesses because their immigration status is not in play.
Residents also wanted to make clear to the council how strongly we feel that undocumented individuals and families are neighbors who should not be living in fear, dreading a knock at the door or afraid to go outside. Four religious leaders from congregations in Beacon pointed to biblical reminders that we are all sojourners, as were all those before us.
There was also a reminder that immigrants make significant contributions to the economy. Farmers around the country, including in New York, worry about who will harvest crops. Our Main Street businesses provide employment to immigrants who pay taxes and spend dollars here.
Council members listened carefully to these arguments and will, in the next few weeks, begin the process of deciding on the nature of the safety to be provided to all residents of Beacon and whether to join the growing list of cities who have declared themselves sanctuaries.
Joseph Gilmore and Rachel Thompson, Beacon