SALEM — On Wednesday, February 22, at 6 p.m., Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone discuss the factors they considered before initiating the process to declare their municipalities sanctuary cities. Councilor James R. Cote of Newton will share a contrasting perspective, having vigorously opposed this initiative for his city.
Braden Paynter of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience will facilitate the discussion. Paynter’s organization is made up of an international coalition of museums and historic sites that serve as places for reflection for their communities.
“What does it mean to be a sanctuary city?” is an especially timely and relevant topic throughout the United States. In Salem, city councilors are currently deliberating Major Driscoll’s ordinance to officially designate “The City of Peace” a sanctuary city. And Somerville Mayor Curtatone has become nationally known for his thoughtful and vocal support of his city’s status as a sanctuary city.
“In many respects, Salem is a sanctuary city today,” Salem’s Mayor Driscoll is quoted as saying in a recent Salem News article. “It’s part of the humanity of our community, which is why we’re looking at this as an opportunity to reaffirm our values.”
Salem has a long, proud history of welcoming new residents and supporting them as they make new lives for themselves and their families. The House of the Seven Gables began its own settlement work in 1910 when Settlement Association founder Caroline Emmerton restored the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, renamed it The House of Seven Gables and used admission proceeds to support a settlement program that included education and job training.
“The primary goal of The Gables in hosting these dialogues is to encourage all residents and civic leaders of Salem and surrounding communities to listen, learn and share their thoughts on immigration and immigration reform,” says Ana Nuncio, manager of Settlement Partnerships at The Gables. “The immigration conversations serve as an educational tool to explore some deeply entrenched misperceptions that new immigrants and the descendants of earlier generations of immigrants have about each other — and sometimes about themselves and their own heritage.”
The public is invited to participate in the discussion with the mayors and others for whom the topic is both relevant and personal. It will be held in The Gables’ Visitor Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Here are excerpts from the Sanctuary City petition circulating in Salem in support of the ordinance:
Whereas, the City of Salem, “the City of Peace,” works to ensure all of its residents feel safe and at home within its borders, and that all of its residents may feel free to work, worship, raise their families and live in a democracy with peace and security;
Whereas, the City of Salem is proud of its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and the cultural, civic and economic contributions made by all of its residents throughout its long history, bringing us together as one prejudice-free community in which all people are respected, understood, and appreciated for their differences;
Whereas, undocumented immigrants living in Salem pay taxes, own business and property, and contribute to the wellbeing of the community;
Whereas, the City of Salem has learned from tragedies in its own history that state-sponsored hate and fear can lead to the destruction of the fabric of a community . . .
We, the undersigned residents of Salem, petition that the City of Salem be declared a sanctuary city.
This event is free and open to the public. For reservations, those interested may visit www.7Gables.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-744-0991, ext. 105.
The Gables extends a special thanks to the Northey Street Bed and Breakfast for providing lodging to out-of-town guests for the Community Conversation series.
About The House of the Seven Gable Settlement Association
The mission of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to preserve its National Historic Landmark and leverage its power as an icon of American culture to engage diverse audiences and provide education opportunities for its local immigrant community. For more information visit www.7gables.org.