CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — In a move meant to protect undocumented immigrants, the Cambridge City Council has passed a law requiring police to issue a summons to those caught driving in the city without a driver's license—instead of putting them in cuffs.
It's a move meant to keep federal immigration officers from hearing about the arrests of undocumented, unlicensed drivers, and then detaining or deporting them.
The policy has been practiced by Cambridge Police for some time, but City Councilor Quinton Zondervan, himself an immigrant, told WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville that it is now officially on the books.
"We want to make sure that everybody understands that the police are not deputized ICE agents, and that they can be trusted to help keep our community safe," he said.
Cambridge, like Boston, Somerville, and several other Massachusetts cities, is a "sanctuary city"—meaning they have municipal laws in place meant to protect the undocumented from deportation or prosecution based solely on their immigration status. That "sanctuary city" status puts them in defiance of federal law.
Councilor Zondervan said overstaying a visa is a civil infraction "roughly equivalent to a parking ticket," and that driving without a license is still against the law.
"That's why they would still be served a court summons," he said. "We're not saying don't enforce the law; we're just saying enforce it in a way that keeps people safe."
Cambridge residents who spoke to WBZ NewsRadio all said they support the law, which the council passed unanimously.
"I totally agree with the law, and I'm glad it's on the books, and I'm terrified about what's gonna happen with ICE," Connie, a Cambridge resident, said.
However, Zondervan said not everyone supports it.
"I have received personal calls, and some of them have been quite racist and nasty," he said.
The law's passing comes as President Donald Trump's administration is preparing to send elite, tactical U.S. Customs and Border Patrol teams to several sanctuary cities, including Boston.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said it's not clear exactly what those additional officers will do in these cities, as he said federal authorities haven't contacted his office.
Meanwhile, there is a push in the state legislature to allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses. Currently, Massachusetts requires that applicants for a license be legal U.S. citizens, though several other states do not.
Mayor Marty Walsh said he supports that immigrant driver's license bill, named the Work and Family Mobility Act.
WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) reports