BOSTON -- By voice vote this afternoon, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a resolution that urges the city to pull investments from Arizona in protest over the state's new immigration law. The Arizona law, S.B. 1070, requires police officers to demand immigration papers whenever they have "reasonable suspicion" about the status of civilians with whom they come in contact, and to arrest those who cannot prove their legal status.
"As councilors we not only make an oath to uphold the city charter," said Councilor at Large John R. Connolly, who added his name to the resolution. "We also make an oath to uphold the Massachusetts Constitution and the Constitution of the United States of America. This law is thoroughly unconstitutional. It will be struck down as soon as it is brought to court for blatantly violating the Fourth Amendment."
The Fourth Amendment protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures. Connolly noted that the Arizona law not only "demonizes undocumented immigrants," it also "strips citizenship rights from entire classes of people, including anyone who happens to be brown-skinned or anyone who has an accent."
Councilor Connolly also found it ironic that right-wing radio hosts seem so unconcerned with defending the constitution. Indeed, several councilors blamed local talk radio for the deluge of angry e-mails and phone calls they received over the past two days.
"Many of these e-mails and phone calls are too vile to repeat in these chambers," Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley said. "When you oppose reform of immigration laws, that's not bigoted. But when you tell Councilor Arroyo that he should go back to Mexico, that's bigoted...When you tell Councilor Roth that his father, a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, should be deported, that's bigoted."
Councilor at Large Felix Arroyo, lead sponsor of the resolution, thanked all the organizations who stood up over the past few days to counteract this onslaught, and who packed the council chamber this afternoon.
Among the crowd of supporters was Marcony Almeida, Organizing Director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). "We thank all our members and allies for responding to our alerts and for joining us here today to express support for this resolution," Almeida said. "But although this measure by the city council is essential, the only way to truly fix the problem is for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. We at MIRA agree with Councilor Ross' comment today: it's inaction in Washington that is causing us to deal with this major crisis at the city and state level. It proves Congress needs to act immediately."
Support was so strong in the chamber that Councilor Arroyo had to ask the audience to restrain its applause. Nevertheless, a smattering broke out after many councilors spoke, including longtime Councilor Charles Yancey. Now in his thirteenth term, Yancey noted the similarity between this resolution and a measure from 1984, when the council voted to divest from apartheid-era South Africa. "We withdrew $12.5 million at a profit." he said. "Sometimes, good things happen when you do the right thing."