IMMIGRATION

Easthampton School Committee voted teachers will receive training on how to handle information requests from federal immigration officials.
Mary Serreze / MassLive

As a new school year draws near, school officials in Massachusetts are focused on immigration policy, with some districts training their staff how to handle information requests from federal immigration officials.

In May, state Attorney General Maura Healey released guidelines for public schools that detail how cooperative they should be with US Immigration Customs and Customs agents, should they seek information about students. The advisory Healey released said schools can provide basic information, but are not required to.

Congolese refugee Guylain, 23, left, is greeted by his Catholic Charities caseworker Jowel Iranzi April 5, 2017 at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., where Guylain and his brother Oliver, 26, arrived.
Sarah Crosby / Daily Hampshire Gazette

We're beginning to see the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding much of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting immigration and refugees. The U.S. has now hit the Trump-imposed annual cap of 50,000 refugees. There are exceptions carved out by the Supreme Court, but details remain in flux.

The Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer of South Congregational Church in Springfield, explains the sanctuary decision, on June 16, 2017.
Patrick Johnson / The Republican

The building code commissioner for Springfield, Mass., has sent a warning letter to a church that plans to become a sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation.

The Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer of South Congregational Church in Springfield, explains the sanctuary decision, on June 16, 2017.
Patrick Johnson / The Republican

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Monday directed city departments to consider public safety and building code violations at South Congregational Church. That's after the church announced it intended to serve as a sanctuary for immigrants who are undocumented and face deportation.

Under President Trump, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are casting a broader net when it comes to who they’re prioritizing for arrest. According to ICE data, the focus in New England appears to be on immigrants with no criminal record.

ICE arrests of non-criminal immigrants living in New England without authorization have more than tripled so far this year.

Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, which is closing for part of May 1, 2017, to support workers and immigrants.
Jim Kinney / The Republican

The first day of May — May Day — is also known as International Workers Day. In honor of it, roughly 20 businesses and organizations in the Pioneer Valley are closing their doors for the day.

It's part of a nationwide effort, and immigrants are a key part of the focus.

The Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield, Mass.
Henry Epp / NEPR

Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities. These cities, including some in our region, have explicitly said they won't comply with requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold detainees.

At the same time, some local prisons are holding inmates on behalf of ICE, including the Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield, Massachusetts. 

Many refugees who arrive on U.S. soil finally feel safe after decades of war or torture or loss of family members. But just because they're removed from physical harm, it doesn't mean the pain is over. 

File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette

At least two communities in western Massachusetts could lose federal funding from the Department of Justice. That's if the department follows through on its pledge to cut grant money from cities that do not comply with federal immigration requests to detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

Last week, both Amherst and Northampton landed on a federal list of so-called "sanctuary cities." 

When Not-Bad People Obey Not-Good Orders

Feb 17, 2017
Shaheen Pasha teaches international journalism at UMass Amherst.
UMass

Commentator Shaheen Pasha has a passport full of stamps from Muslim nations as well as European countries and far-flung Asian destinations. It’s always been a source of pride to have been able to see the world. Now it’s a source of concern.

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