Amherst to consider “sanctuary city” bylaw

Amherst police already do not inquire about immigration status

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of Amherst residents have filed a petition to have Town Meeting adopt a “sanctuary city” bylaw.

The intention is to clarify a resolution that Town Meeting adopted several years ago, in which Amherst Police do not seek out someone’s immigration status. The proposed bylaw will go before Town Meeting on April 26.

If adopted, Amherst would be distinguished as a sanctuary community, and would limit information that could be collected about someone’s immigration status.

Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman told 22News that this won’t change the way police currently interact with you, because they are not asked to act on behalf of immigration enforcement.

“We don’t ask them if they’re citizens, we’re not immigration agents. There’s a lot of things that we don’t do, but we do maintain excellent relations with our immigrant communities, because that enhances the safety of the entire community,” Bockelman said.

In January, Bockelman, as well as Amherst’s police chief and superintendent of schools, released a joint statement clarifying that Amherst is a welcoming community that doesn’t seek-out undocumented immigrants.

If Town Meeting approves the bylaw, it will go to the Attorney General’s office for final approval. The process could take months.