By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Westborough Police Chief Alan Gordon reviewed his department’s policies and procedures for the enforcement of federal immigration laws at the Board of Selectmen meeting Feb. 14. Prior to the meeting, the board had been able to review the policy which outlines how the Police Department interacts with undocumented immigrants and when they will take enforcement action. This policy came from the combined effort of the chief and the town’s newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
“This policy is what we’ve been doing all along,” Gordon said. “We don’t question people as to their immigration status. It does not matter to us if they are undocumented, born here or are naturalized citizens.”
Gordon has met with many groups of people in town and has visited two mosques in Worcester.
“It was very heartwarming to appear before these individuals [at the mosques],” Gordon commented. “They are human beings just like us. These are good people. They are not the terrorists you hear about, these are good people.”
The intention of these meetings was to talk about inclusion in their communities but, because of the present climate and directives from the president, the concerns centered on immigration.
“These are residents from Westborough. They have major concerns,” Gordon said. “We put this policy in writing but it’s what we’ve been doing all along. We deal with individuals who have committed crimes and we don’t ask for immigration papers or their green card.”
An example he gave was if an individual is driving without a license, which often happens, they are given a traffic citation. Further, if the police cannot positively identify someone, they may arrest them, bring them in and fingerprint them. These are sent to the FBI and shared with Immigration and Customs. Westborough does not have the capability to detain people if the situation calls for it, rather immigration and the courts would need to intercede.
“We don’t want people to fear us,” Gordon noted. “We can be trusted and be a resource.”
However, he is quick to inform that this policy does not establish Westborough as a ‘Sanctuary city.’”
“We will not protect undocumented immigrants,” he noted. “We will service anyone who is here, but Westborough will not turn a blind eye to people’s immigration status.”
Selectman Leigh Emery said, “You are following protocol as directed by law.”
She was also impressed with the document and also wondered if the chief had plans to put something simple to read on the website. Gordon said that he could and Town Manager Jim Malloy offered to hyperlink his condensed version which would direct people to the complete version of the policy.