LAWRENCE MAYOR CLAIMS LI­BEL IN SES­SIONS’ SLAM

AG’s speech slimes ‘sanc­tu­ary city’ laws

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By MARY MARKOS

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.”

AP PHOTO

ECHO­ING HIS BOSS: U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions speaks in Con­cord, N.H., Thurs­day, about the opioid and fen­tanyl cri­sis.

STAFF PHOTO BY PA­TRICK WHIT­TE­MORE

‘TO THEM, IT’S A GAME’: Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera is mulling a li­bel suit af­ter re­marks by U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions.

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