The Newton City Council held a meeting Wednesday night at City Hall to consider making Newton a sanctuary city. A sanctuary city pledges to offer protection to immigrants who might otherwise be deported by the federal government. This was the second meeting that the council had held on the matter, and they voted to bring the proposition to a third meeting before the entire city council in order to vote it into law.
Much of the discussion at the council meeting was centered around self-concern. Multiple council members were initially apprehensive of Newton becoming a sanctuary city due to concerns for the personal safety of themselves and their constituents. A number of Newton residents protested outside of the first meeting to express their disapproval for the legislation. Despite these qualms, the council members acknowledged at the meeting on Wednesday that the second draft of the bill was satisfactory, and each member threw his or her support behind the movement. It was voted unanimously in favor, 6-0.
In the past, The Heights has suggested that students who are participating in on-campus demonstrations and protests within the city of Boston seek to take concrete action regarding the causes they are supporting or speaking out against. The upcoming meeting of the Newton City Council on Feb. 21 represents a tangible step toward protecting immigrants within the local community, a goal for which multiple student groups on campus have expressed support. Attending the next meeting to endorse the measure is one way that BC students can contribute to the protection of immigrants within the community.
While supporting the rights and freedoms of immigrant students on campus is inherently important, it is imperative that students recognize that our campus does not exist inside of a bubble. There are immigrant residents within Newton that could benefit from the support and energy that BC students have shown in recent protests and demonstrations. Many students and faculty speaking at these demonstrations have placed an emphasis on the importance of coming together to combat oppression and discrimination, and one way to achieve this is for BC students to work with Newton. For student activism to have a greater impact, it should be extended beyond the barriers of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
Many of the goals of student groups on campus call directly for changes that can only be made by the University administration—in particular, a recent campus protest called for BC to become a sanctuary campus. It is worth noting that if Newton becomes a sanctuary city, the administration may be more inclined to act on student demands. Therefore, it is essential that those looking to bring change to BC also support activism in the surrounding community and beyond at the national level.
At the meeting, the Newton City Council epitomized American politics when it works. Legislators on the council with different political philosophies and backgrounds worked together to create a piece of legislation that works for everyone, depicting the value of cooperation and collaboration. Newton politicians deserve recognition for coming and working together on this important piece of legislation in this critical time. In this period of uncertainty, it is comforting to know that Newton’s government stands with its immigrant residents and opposes discrimination.
Featured Image by Alec Greaney / Heights Editor