Counter-Resistance To Sanctuary Cities Forms In Boston

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WEST ROXBURY — On the same day that House Democrats on Beacon Hill ushered through a bill aimed at halting any participation from the state’s inmate population to help build President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, a resistance of a different sort took place across town.

Wednesday night’s forum in West Roxbury, held by the recently-formed Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities, drew its fair share of protesters on the streets — as inside the neighborhood’s Elks Lodge, a group of immigration rule-of-law advocates participated in a rare Massachusetts-centric speaking forum.  

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director for the Washington D.C.-based Center for Immigration Reform, had an earlier speaking engagement canceled at the last minute a week ago after VFW officials in Franklin buckled to pressure from sanctuary city backers. On Wednesday, however, Vaughan was free to share her views:

Despite the conservative tenor of the event, other views were also welcome — and made themselves heard — as several dissenters attended and submitted questions to the panel, which also included Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, state Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Walter Hempel, and Maureen Maloney, whose son Matthew Denice was killed in August 2011 by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record who dragged him about a quarter-mile while drunk.

At one point, moderator and organizer Lou Murray addressed a question from an attendee who wanted to know why the panel was packed with anti-sanctuary city advocates.

“Well, the name of our group is Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities,” Murray said, pointing to the organization’s banner that was situated behind the panel, drawing some laughter and applause from others. “Any other questions?”

Murray later pointed out that his organization could not convince the West Roxbury’s local weekly newspaper to cover the event.

“They ignored us, ignored our calls,” he said.

There were some sharply contested moments during the session’s question-and-answer period, as another attendee with an opposing viewpoint pointed out that the Catholic Church is actually in favor of sanctuary city policies.

“The Catholic bishops make a fortune off of the refugees and the illegal aliens, and I’m a Catholic,” Murray said in response.

Vaughan later addressed a question pointed at Boston mayoral candidate and City Councilor Tito Jackson’s efforts to push a “Sanctuary Schools Act” in Boston. According to Jackson’s proposed ordinance, ICE agents would be barred from entering schools without first obtaining a signed warrant from a judge and written permission from the school superintendent and district attorney.

“It is nothing but manipulation of this idea in creating fear among immigrants, and I’m sorry, I think it’s malicious and wrong,” she said.

Diehl, who is planning to challenge U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018, pointed out that a state representative from Brockton, a town bordering his district, earlier this spring used her Facebook page to publicize a rumored ICE raid planned in the city.

“In fact she then put a campaign contribution post on her Facebook page a day later,” Diehl said about state Representative Michelle DuBois. “There is an attempt obviously to villainize law enforcement and to spread misinformation.”

An emotional moment also occurred Wednesday night when Maloney addressed a question from another attendee with opposing views who bluntly asked which group has killed more while drunk behind the wheel — Americans or illegal immigrants.


“All I have to say is that illegal aliens should be here, so if they weren’t here, my son would not be killed,” she said.

Another question focused on a recent report from the Boston Police Department concluding that the majority of heroin entering the city has come courtesy of illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic:

Diehl said “absolutely” when asked if the solution to the opiate epidemic is related to a broken immigration system.

Vaughan also addressed another question regarding the Southern Policy Law Center’s labeling of her organization as a hate group:

She later voiced her opinion on the so-called difference between declared “sanctuary cities” and cities like Newton, which have enacted policies called “trust acts.”

Full opening remarks from each panelist are below.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson:

Retired ICE Agent Walter Hempel:



State Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman):


Maureen Maloney: