Anti-ICE Tattle-Tale Phone Line Goes Live In Somerville

Printed from:

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story initially reported the city of Somerville’s launching of an immigration-related hotline. The hotline was launched jointly via several nonprofits. 

SOMERVILLE — The birthplace of so-called “sanctuary city” policies, which bar police from sharing arrestees’ information with federal immigration officials, is stepping up its resistance to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

March saw the soft launch of  a program known as the Somerville Response Network, an initiative described as “an ongoing collaboration of local government, nonprofits, and other community members established to create a citywide plan to assist families torn apart by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] raids.”

The “rapid response plan” calls for residents who hear word, or even witness, ICE operations to text or call a city telephone number — prompting an alert. The service has yet to go live. According to a recent update, the system is currently holding drills, while organizers have said they are seeking volunteers. 

Kenia Alfaro, development coordinator for The Welcome Project — which describes itself as an outfit dedicated to promoting “education and advocacy with Somerville’s immigrant community” — told the Somerville Journal that while there “is a lot of fear in our immigrant communities” and “though we can’t put a halt to the actions of the federal government, we can be prepared to help families in our city affected by ICE arrests or deportation move forward in the face of uncertainty.”

“The Rapid Response Network is really just a loose network of people who can provide a wide range of support to families affected by an ICE raid,” David Gibbs, executive director of the Community Action Agency of Somerville, one of the organizations behind the program, said in a recent statement.

The locally-based resistance echoes the controversial decision by a Democratic state representative from Brockton, Michelle DuBois, to take to social media in March 2017 after she apparently heard rumors of a planned ICE raid in her city.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone has not been shy about his opposition to Trump’s law-and-order stance on immigration. During his inaugural address in January 2017, Curtatone vowed to maintain his city’s sanctuary policies.

During an April 2017 roundtable discussion that included Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, an outspoken critic of illegal immigration, Curtatone — who had labeled Hodgson in the past as a “jack-booted thug” over his law-and-order stances — defended Somerville’s sanctuary policies and claimed that “if someone is a violent person and has a criminal warrant we work with them [ICE] to deport that person, you don’t get a free pass in Somerville.”