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Network wants to make immigrants feel welcome

The Revere Immigrant Solidarity Network (RISN) wants immigrants of Revere to feel safe and welcomed. “After seeing what was happening on a national level, we wanted to make sure everyone here felt safe and had the resources they need,” Julie Brown of RISN’s Communications Team said.

One of the things they did as a group was denounce Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo’s motion for Revere to reject a proposal by state delegates calling for Massachusetts to become a so-called “sanctuary state.” Brown said that motion made Revere immigrants feel unwelcome.

Rotondo’s motion opposed the sanctuary state idea of protecting illegal immigrants – persons who have come into the country illegally and have broken laws. A “sanctuary city” status is not law but a self-imposed position taken by cities, such as Somerville and Chelsea, whose population is dominated by minorities.

Currently, neighboring Chelsea and East Boston have been overwhelmed with gang violence from the Salvadorian street gang MS-13, who have been fighting over drug turf. As it has dominated the news, city councillors were concerned over suspects’ immigration status, questioning why so many have been allowed to walk freely without police scrutiny in such “sanctuary cities” as Chelsea. The sanctuary city status “policy” does not allow officers to question a suspect’s immigration status, which has become a political lightning rod nationally.

“It didn’t make sense to me. Why have a bill that says you are not going to do something? It’s like the ex that calls to say they are never going to call you again. Why not just not call? Why do you have to go out of your way to make people feel unwelcome?” Brown said.

RISN held a rally before the May 1 City Council meeting. They plan on meeting with councillors to discuss the issues immigrants face every day in the city. They have been told the motion has been tabled indefinitely.

One of those issues is the Revere public school system. “Many parents feel like they don’t have the proper resources they need to advocate for their children or be involved in their children’s education,” Brown said.

RISN works with parents to connect them with the proper resources and help educate Revere educators on how to work with the immigrant population. They are also working with immigrants to educate them about their rights and connect them with legal services if they need them.

Brown wants people to know that RISN isn’t interested in partisan politics. “We don’t care if you are democrat, republican or something else,” she said. “We want to strip that stuff away and have a conversation. Once you get past all that – that is when the real progress happens.”

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