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Text of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance

Click here for a PDF copy of the Ordinance as passed. Click here for the Salem Police Department Policy on "Immigration Laws & the Role of the Salem Police Department."

History of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance

In 2016 City Councilor David Eppley and representatives from the Salem No Place for Hate Committee requested that the City Council formally designate Salem as a "sanctuary" community. Following their initial request, a working group of community leaders including Mayor Driscoll, the Police Chief, and representatives of local institutions, faith-based organizations, and community groups formed to learn more about the challenges facing Salem’s immigrant community, current Salem practices and policies regarding undocumented residents, and what might be done to ensure that everyone in Salem’s community is treated with respect.
In the course of this review, the group heard from Salem immigrants about their fears and anxieties. Immigrants—regardless of their status—fear that their families will be separated and that mass deportations will involve local police officers. Many of these people are law abiding residents who have lived in our neighborhoods for decades, but now fear any interaction with their local government.
The workgroup also found that City and the Police Department practices and policies regarding municipal and public safety operations already ensured basic human rights and protections for all Salem residents, regardless of immigration status.
Nonetheless, the group concluded that it would be reassuring to our immigrant neighbors—and good for the entire Salem community—to make these policies explicit through City ordinance. The group drafted an Ordinance to re-affirm and codify the City’s current practices and the strong belief that all residents deserve equal rights and fair treatment. The Ordinance was passed at a City Council ad hoc committee meeting following the March 29 public meeting at Bentley School, and subsequently passed on a second vote at a meeting of the City Council on April 13. 

The Ordinance states the following:

  • Salem Police will continue to see their role in local law enforcement through a community policing lens, not as immigration officials.
  • Salem public safety personnel recognize and value as their first priority the safety, protection, and security of all Salem residents, regardless of one’s country of origin.
  • City services shall continue to be accessible to all residents, regardless of immigration status.
  • No provision of the Ordinance obstructs immigration enforcement or prohibits cooperation among law enforcement.
  • No provision of the Ordinance violates Federal or State law and, therefore, the measure does not impact federal funding for Salem.

In May a citizen petition gathered enough signatures to put the Ordinance back before the City Council for a vote to rescind. The vote failed at a Council meeting on May 25, and  a question on whether the ordinance should stand or be repealed will now be placed on the Nov. 7 election ballot.

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