Selectmen in Yarmouth Strongly Oppose Safe Communities Petitioner’s Article

YARMOUTH – Selectmen in Yarmouth are not supporting a petitioner’s article which will go before Town Meeting voters that seeks the protection for illegal immigrants who have not committed crimes.

Sarah Porter and Mary Ann Hannon presented the nonbinding Safe Communities article to selectmen which calls for the town not to use community resources to enforce federal immigration laws and reaffirm the current practices of law enforcement in town.

Selectmen chair Tracy Post said spending time on the article is irritating, even though the hearts of those presenting it are in the right place.

“This is going to create a division we do not have,” Post said. “And we don’t have to write it down because we live it. We live it every day.”

Post said she has never met a single person who feels scared living in Yarmouth.

“They don’t,” she said. “Nobody goes after anybody who is illegal. Nobody feels unsafe to come out of their house.”

The board praised the work being done by the Yarmouth Police Department.

“I think that at the end of the day this will probably not change the way they do anything,” said Selectman Erik Tolley.

Post said she would never tell police not to follow the law.

“I think it’s offensive that anybody sitting on this board would ask them to do anything different than following the law,” Post said.

There were also objections to a portion of the article which asks the board to uphold the civil liberties of age, race, religion, ethnicity, ability, sexual and gender identity, marital or economic status, national origin, or citizenship and immigration status.

Selectmen questioned some of the “civil liberties” that were listed as not being constitutional rights.

Selectman Norman Holcomb said the article was unethical.

“If this was presented to me as something the town voted on I’d withdraw as a selectmen,” Holcomb said.

Porter said the issue is worthy of discussion at Town Meeting whether it passes or not.

“We want to just make sure that people who may not think about this very much start thinking about it,” Porter said.

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