Silenced Immigration Skeptic To Appear at Sanctuary City Discussion

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BOSTON — An immigration skeptic may have been silenced by hate-speech accusations in Franklin, but it appears her speaking engagement in West Roxbury later this week is still a go.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, plans to appear at a panel discussion Wednesday at the #10 Elks Lodge at 1 Morell Street in West Roxbury.

The event, organized by a group calling itself Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities, also features state Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), who is exploring a challenge to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren; and Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

Vaughan had previously been scheduled to speak at a VFW hall in Franklin this past Thursday, but that event, organized by the town’s local Republican committee, was cancelled at the last minute after it sparked a flurry of protests.

According to a MetroWest Daily News report, VFW Post 3402 Commander Larry Bederian declared on the afternoon prior to Vaughan’s evening speaking engagement that the venue “is not to be used for political harassment.” About 20 demonstrators nevertheless showed up outside the VFW hall, chanting “immigrants are welcome here, say it loud and say it clear,” and toting signs that read, “hate has no home here,” according to the newspaper.

The Center for Immigration Studies bills itself as “low-immigration, pro-immigrant.” The organization, headquartered in Washington D.C., argues immigration levels in the United States are too high and takes a dim view of illegal immigration especially.

Lou Murray, an organizer for Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities, described those who lobbied for the silencing of Vaughan as “the Alt-Left totalitarian forces of political correctness” in a press release promoting his group’s Boston forum.

The press release cited news broken by New Boston Post regarding a Boston Municipal Court judge’s decision to lower the sentencing by one day of a convicted Green Card-holding bank robber, who otherwise would have been subjected to a deportation order without the adjustment. Police say the man went on to murder two doctors in their South Boston apartment earlier this month.  

Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities has apparently been particularly critical of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s approach to dealing with illegal immigration. Days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Walsh held a press conference in which he vowed not to “waste vital police resources on misguided federal actions.”

Murray in a prepared statement ripped the approach Walsh and other city leaders have taken in addressing illegal immigration.

“People are fed up and living in fear,” Murray said. “Mayor Walsh spouts politically correct bromides, as the local victims of illegal alien crime keep piling up.”

Murray added that he and other neighbors joined up to form Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities in order to “provide a voice for the silent majority of taxpayers, business owners, commuters, and homeowners that want safe streets, and an end to the coddling of illegal alien law-breakers.”

Wednesday night’s discussion will also feature a recently retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent named Walter Hempel; and Maureen Maloney, mother of Matthew Denice, a 23-year-old Milford man who died in 2011 after an Ecuadorean immigrant living illegally in Massachusetts dragged him to his death. The illegal immigrant, who police say was driving drunk, was later convicted of manslaughter.

“We thought an educational forum would be the best way to inform concerned citizens, and develop an organization to provide the facts to the media,” Murray said.

The event falls on the same day that House lawmakers on Beacon Hill will take up two bills designed to combat immigration-related policy initiatives being pushed by the Trump administration. Both bills are sponsored by state Representative Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford). The first would ban incarcerated Massachusetts inmates from being assigned to work on out-of-state labor projects, such as Hodgson’s proposal that inmates under his supervision be assigned to help build a wall along the Mexico border. 

Cabral’s other bill calls for banning county sheriffs from using state funds to help enforce federal immigration law. The Trump administration has been working to expand agreements between federal and state officials that would allow local police departments to help enforce immigration law.

Both bills received favorable reports on Monday from their respective joint committees, a crucial step towards passage.

The immigration forum in West Roxbury is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The House meets in formal session at 11 a.m. that same day.