To the Editor:
The warrant article which the We Stand Together group is seeking to place on our local town warrants is as pointless as it is counterproductive.
The proposed article (which would require the town to refrain from using town resources for the enforcement of federal immigration laws) is pointless not only because it is a solution for which there is no problem, but also because the town lacks the legal authority to pass it. For the group’s proposed warrant article to be meaningful, it would have to address a concern over the way the towns are spending their money. However, there is not, and to my knowledge never has been, any money in the towns’ budgets for enforcing federal immigration laws. Nor to my knowledge has any such budget item been proposed for next year’s budgets.
Moreover, for this proposed warrant article to be worth considering, it would have to be lawful. However, in 2012, President Obama’s administration successfully prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in its fight to preempt local laws and regulations which would contradict federal immigration policy (such as the rules being proposed by this warrant article). Accordingly, whether or not you agree with President Obama’s efforts in this regard, he did succeed in finally and unequivocally removing the last vestiges of any meaningful autonomous local authority to act in a manner that is contrary to federal immigration regulations and policies.
Perhaps more important, this proposed warrant article is counterproductive because its effort to register a largely symbolic protest to a nonexistent problem could, at the very least, put our local towns on the radar of the relevant federal authorities charged with enforcing upcoming rules regarding “sanctuary cities.” Regardless of what the proponents of this article intend, these authorities might, correctly or incorrectly, label local towns which pass this warrant article as “sanctuary cities,” with the resulting consequence of the loss of all funding that is derived, directly and indirectly, from federal sources, as well as potential fines for the towns and their law enforcement officials. Even the cost to a town of responding to such a federal investigation or inquiry is a high price to pay in order to accomplish no substantive change from current, longstanding policies on this issue. In contrast, if local towns were instead to quietly continue to pursue their existing policies of trusting immigration enforcement (or the lack thereof) to the sound discretion of local law enforcement, the odds of losing such funding or incurring such fines are near zero. It would seem, therefore, that the risk incurred by local towns in passing this article in order to register a mostly symbolic protest is not worth the potential loss that could result from it.