Somerville mayor says Donald Trump should pay this ‘sanctuary city’ a visit

Somerville Ma 11/08/2013 Somerville Mayor Joseph A.  Curtatone (cq) near project  site that will see and expansion of the green line in city. ( Jonathan.Wiggs )Topic:Section:Reporter:
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Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. –Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has had enough of Donald Trump’s thoughts on immigration.

His so-called facts are lies,” Curtatone said in an interview Thursday.

Following the Republican’s continued criticism of so-called sanctuary cities, which do not generally cooperate with federal efforts to detain undocumented immigrants, Curtatone said Trump needs to get his facts straight.

“If Donald Trump really wanted to learn about building communities, he wouldn’t go to Mexico—he’d come to Somerville,” Curtatone said. The mayor noted that Somerville has been a sanctuary city for nearly 30 years.

Trump visited Mexico for a meeting Wednesday with President Enrique Peña Nieto. In a speech Wednesday night, Trump doubled down on several harsher aspects of his immigration proposals, including the construction of a physical border wall and prohibiting legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

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He also vowed to pass legislation to block funding to sanctuary cities, should he win the election.

“We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths,” Trump said.

But Curtatone pushed back on the notion that sanctuary cities are unsafe.

“You don’t make a community safe by isolating their immigration status,” he said, alluding to a line of research suggesting immigrants, regardless of status, are less crime-prone than their native counterparts. According to Curtatone, a third of Somerville’s population is foreign born.

When you engage a community, it makes it a healthier, happier, and safer place for everyone, Curtatone said.

Crime is down 41 percent in Somerville since it became a sanctuary city in 1987, Curtatone told The Daily Beast last August.

Although neighboring Cambridge and Chelsea are also considered sanctuary cities, this isn’t the first time that the Somerville mayor—never one to back down from a public debate—has gone head-to-head with a presidential candidate over the subject.

Last summer, during his fruitless primary campaign, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed that mayors of sanctuary cities should be criminally and civilly liable for any crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in their city.

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In an interview with Boston Herald Radio, Jindal suggested that mayors like Curtatone should be arrested.

Curtatone called the Republican governor’s remarks “absurd.”

“To say a blanket statement that sanctuary cities in and of itself spur someone to commit a heinous crime is really offensive,” he responded. “And his proposal to arrest mayors? Well, come and get me.”

Curtatone challenged Jindal to come to Somerville and debate him on the issue. He said sanctuary cities were formed because immigrants (documented or not) are less likely to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement if they feared being questioned about their documentation status.

A University of Illinois at Chicago study in 2013 found that 44 percent of Latinos—both US- and foreign-born—said they were less likely to report being the victim of a crime if they fear being questioned about their immigration status.

Stereotyping makes people more distrustful,” Curtatone said Thursday, calling Trump’s immigration rhetoric “offensive and hurtful.”

He suggested it would be more appropriate for Trump to change his trademark slogan to “Make America Hate Again” and referred to a study finding the GOP nominee’s proposal to deport all undocumented immigrants would shrink the national economy 2 percent.

“He doesn’t understand the facts and the data,” Curtatone said. “If you need someone to help him, you can have him call me.”

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