A Falmouth Town Meeting member is looking to pass a resolution barring all Falmouth town officials, including police officers, from enforcing Federal immigration laws.
The measure is proposed by Sandra L. Faiman-Silva of Davis Road, Falmouth, a Precinct 2 Town Meeting member. She collected 106 signatures in support of the resolution.
The resolution seeks to affirm and endorse existing Falmouth Police Department policies outlined in the department’s “Mission, Core Values and Vision Statement” as well as “A Message from the Police Chief Regarding the DHS-ICE Secure Communities Program.”
In this message, Police Chief Edward A. Dunne wrote “The Falmouth Police Department, in keeping with our current practices, will not be involved in any profiling or targeting of any specific ethnic group or presumed nationality class because of the implementation of the Federal Secure Communities Program.”
“Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, occupation, immigration status or any other arbitrary characteristic pertaining to any specific individual have absolutely no bearing on any decision for a Falmouth Police Officer to effect an arrest,” Chief Dunne wrote. “Local law enforcement agencies, including the Falmouth Police, have no authority to enforce federal civil immigration laws and the implementation of the Secure Communities Program does not vest any additional authority or power to further civil immigration arrests by local police.”
Ms. Faiman-Silva agrees, and is asking Town Meeting to affirm this message. In addition, her resolution requires “all individuals questioned or detained by Falmouth law enforcement, regardless of their immigration status, be informed of and be given their full due process rights.”
The resolution also looks “to forbid all officials in Falmouth from participating in or cooperating with any inquiry, investigation, surveillance or detention having to do with immigration matters falling under the jurisdiction of the Federal government in absence of probable cause of criminal activity, and then only to the extent legally possible.”
Similarly, the resolution forbids officials from using town funds or town resources to enforce Federal immigration law unless presented with a criminal warrant or evidence of probable cause.
The resolution would also forbid town officials from asking residents and visitors about their immigration status, from enforcing any immigration matters, from profiling based on race, ethnicity, citizenship, nationality, religion, age, immigration status or political values, or any other arbitrary characteristic and from violating the civil liberties and human rights of all residents and visitors on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual and gender identity, national origin, citizens and immigration status, or any other arbitrary characteristic.
In her petition, she notes this keeps with current practice in Falmouth. The petition explains the need for the resolution by citing the national political climate.
“The elevation national climate of hostility toward immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and many other resident and visitors, including African Americans, Latino/as, person of color generally, LGBTQ individuals and religious groups, particularly Jews and Muslims, has brought increased levels of hostility and violence toward members of those groups,” Ms. Faiman-Silva wrote.
Four other petition articles have been submitted for the November Town Meeting.
This includes two zoning articles. Planning board chairman James E. Fox collected 11 signatures and is seeking to rezone 64 Technology Park Drive from public use to Light Industrial C.
Jay Zavala of Wheelhouse Circle, East Falmouth, a Precinct 8 Town Meeting member, collected 18 signatures for a solar panel related article. He aims to amend the town’s zoning map by adding an additional large-scale ground-mounted solar overlay district along Nathan Ellis Highway. The land is currently used as parking and fairground event space.
Other petition articles include a prohibition on the sale of “water or any other beverage in single-use plastic bottles of any size,” proposed by Christine Kircun of Sidewinder Drive, East Falmouth, and an amendment to to the Wetlands Protection bylaw to expect exempt isolated freshwater wetlands (any freshwater wetland not bordering a water body) smaller than 10,000 square feet from the act. This amendment was filed by Nathan A. Holcomb of Sippewissett Road, Falmouth.
Petition articles for the November Town Meeting are due by 4:30 PM Friday, September 6. These articles require signatures from at least 10 registered Falmouth voters.
The Falmouth Board of Selectmen will vote on articles and execute the warrant at its Monday, September 16, meeting.