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Frequently Asked Questions

Did the Ordinance change existing Salem City and Police Department policy?  

No. The Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance codified existing City practices and Police Department policies into local law. Policies and practices remain the same as prior to the passage of the Ordinance.

How does the Ordinance affect City services?

The Ordinance specifies that the City services are to be provided to all residents who so qualify, regardless of immigration status, and that City employees shall not ask for immigration status from a resident in providing a service, unless they are required to do so by state or federal law.

How does the Ordinance affect Salem Police policies?

Salem Police policy states that officers shall not undertake immigration-related investigations or routinely inquire about the immigration status of any person during normal police operations, unless required to do so by law. Salem Police will continue to see their role in local law enforcement through a community policing lens, not as immigration officials. A recent State Supreme Judicial Court ruling [link to ruling] reinforces that this practice is appropriate and constitutional.

If nothing has changed why do we need this Ordinance?

As a result of changes in federal immigration policy, Salem’s immigrants –documented and undocumented– are fearful about their current status in the U.S. This has caused many folks to refrain from any interaction with local officials–including local public safety and school officials. The Ordinance codifies existing policies and lets immigrants living in our community know they can call the police, take their kids to school or to the doctor, or take part in other community activities without fear of arrest or deportation as a result of interactions with local officials or City employees. When one segment of our community is afraid to call the police to report a crime or problem we are all less safe.

Does the Ordinance violate Federal law or threaten Salem’s Federal funding?

 No provision of the Ordinance violates Federal or State law and the Ordinance explicitly states its compliance with relevant Federal law regarding information sharing with Federal authorities. Because the Ordinance violates neither existing federal immigration law nor the President’s recent Executive Order, federal funding for the City is not at risk.

Does the Ordinance prevent collaboration with Federal authorities?

No provision of the Ordinance obstructs immigration enforcement or prohibits cooperation among law enforcement or with Federal authorities. At the same time, no city can be compelled to enforce federal immigration rules or be penalized for not taking part in the enforcement of federal immigration rules; doing so would violate the 10th Amendment, which prevents the federal government from commandeering local police to enforce federal statutes.

Would the Ordinance let criminals who are undocumented reside in Salem?

 No. The Salem Police Department policy allows the Department to detain an undocumented immigrant (or any individual) who poses a public safety threat. Nothing in this Ordinance prevents federal law enforcement agencies from engaging in deportation enforcement activities in Salem, nor does any part of this Ordinance or the SPD Policy protect an undocumented immigrant from arrest or deportation. Current Police Chief, Mary Butler, and former Police Chief and Representative Paul Tucker, both strongly endorsed the Ordinance and believe it will help improve public safety efforts in our community. Studies indicate that crime rates in sanctuary communities are in fact lower than in other communities.


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