Boston Already Has Some Sanctuary City Protections

Thanks to the 2014 Trust Act, police can't detain someone based on their immigration status.

City Councilor Tito Jackson earned plaudits when he proposed making Boston a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants following President-Elect Donald Trump’s call for the mass deportation of up to 3 million people. Thanks to legislation passed in 2014, Boston has the foundation to do so.

The Trust Act, passed unanimously by the City Council and signed by Mayor Marty Walsh in 2014, prohibits Boston police from detaining anyone based on their immigration status unless they have a criminal warrant. A spokesperson for Walsh at the time said the legislation sent a “clear message to the immigrant community that they have a friend and an ally in Mayor Walsh, [Police] Commissioner [Bill] Evans and the city of Boston.”

“There are no exceptions to this rule,” said Councilor Josh Zakim, author of the Trust Act, in a statement Tuesday. “In Boston we value and respect our city’s immigrant communities and the Trust Act is a statement of those values, providing sanctuary from the type of immoral and illegal federal overreach that President-elect Trump has promised throughout his tawdry campaign.”

“Sanctuary city” is a nonlegal term typically ascribed to cities that prohibit city officials and police from inquiring about a person’s immigration status. Los Angeles became the first such sanctuary city in 1979, and in Massachusetts, several communities have followed suit: Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Orleans, Northampton, and Springfield.

Since Trump’s victory, Walsh has said he would work to protect the city’s illegal immigrants, and is “not letting anybody change the policies in the city of Boston” with regard to pathways to citizenship. In his statement, Zakim took a jab at Gov. Charlie Baker, who was spotted Monday at the Republican Governors Association in Orlando, seated beside Vice President-Elect Mike Pence. Baker refused to endorse Trump during the campaign, and told reporters he blanked his ballot.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues, Mayor Walsh, and BPD on this important issue and further strengthening relationships with Boston’s immigrant communities. I also call upon Governor Baker to join us by finally supporting a statewide Trust Act which would further protect immigrants in Massachusetts,” Zakim said.

“Unfortunately the Governor’s recent track record—which includes ordering the State Police to enforce ICE Detainers on behalf of the federal government—demonstrates the same lack of courage that led him to take no position in the Presidential election.”