LAWRENCE MAYOR CLAIMS LIBEL IN SESSIONS’ SLAM
AG’s speech slimes ‘sanctuary city’ laws
Peeved Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera is threatening to sue U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for “libel,” saying he’s tired of his city being made the scapegoat for the opioid crisis.
Sessions in Concord, N.H., Thursday, trumpeting drug arrests, mentioned charges against “four illegal aliens residing in the sanctuary city of Lawrence, Massachusetts,” and added, “there can be no sanctuary for drug dealers and fentanyl dealers in this country.”
“For them, I think it’s a game,” Rivera said about the latest pol to trash his city — Sessions was echoing his boss President Trump’s previous remarks.
“They’re saying that this community is a sanctuary to crimi-
nals who are killing other folks and that just couldn’t be further from the truth,” Rivera told the Herald yesterday. “They are telling people that the answer to all the opioid problems is to eradicate Lawrence.”
Rivera said he plans to meet with attorneys Monday to discuss a libel suit, “because the reality is, Lawrence doesn’t harbor criminals.”
Lawrence became a target after its city council passed a Trust Act — an ordinance that prevents the police department from even responding to immigration agents if they request information about any detained suspect without a criminal warrant.
But Rivera insisted the city does not withhold information from the feds about criminals, and police have reported about nine people to “the federal government” since Lawrence became a sanctuary city in 2015.
“The moment we fingerprint them in Lawrence as an undocumented person who has committed a heinous crime or is selling fentanyl, the federal government is immediately on notice that they exist,” Rivera said. “If ICE wanted to come get them, which they seldom do, or if the FBI wanted to get them, which they seldom do, they just take them.”
But Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said, “That’s laughable . .... There’s a gag order on Lawrence police that prevents them from contacting ICE. It’s in black and white.”
Vaughan stressed the importance of detaining illegal immigrants if they commit a crime, saying they’re less likely to show up for court hearings or immigration proceedings.
“Jeff Sessions is dead-on correct,” Vaughan said. “There’s no reason for drug traffickers in the country illegally to be walking in and out of jails like it’s a revolving door.”
Meanwhile, constitutional lawyer Harvey Silverglate called the mayor’s threat “comic opera,” saying it’s “frivolous” to think that anyone could be sued for libeling a municipality.
“Matters of opinion are immune from defamation,” Silverglate said. “Let me put it this way, Jeff Sessions is acting in a ridiculous manner and the mayor is acting in a ridiculous manner. They kind of deserve each other.”
Silverglate added, “You get the sense that none of these people — the mayor, the attorney general — no one is serious about solving this problem.”
ECHOING HIS BOSS: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in Concord, N.H., Thursday, about the opioid and fentanyl crisis.
‘TO THEM, IT’S A GAME’: Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera is mulling a libel suit after remarks by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.