Sanctuary Bill Prompts Divided Public Response

Passage of a resolution declaring Cambridge a sanctuary for Central Americans prompted a flood of calls to City Hall, but officials differed yesterday on whether more supported or protested the move, the Associated Press reports.

Mayor Leonard Russell, who voted against the resolution, said he has received "over 200 calls, mostly in opposition" since the City Council voted 5-4 Monday not to cooperate in federal investigations of refugees from Guatemala, EI Salvador and Haiti.

But city councilor Saundra Graham, who supported the resolution, said her calls are running 100 to 2 in favor of the council's action, adding that many of those who oppose it "have been fed the wrong story."

"The only thing we said [in the resolution] was that our city would not be involved in investigating those who are here under political ayslum," she said. "If the majority of the people understood the resolution, they would not be opposed."

Most of those criticizing the council's action are concerned it will entice refugees to come to Cambridge, taking jobs and housing away from longtime residents, said Russell, who was elected mayor by his fellow councilors. Some feared that foreigners could be carrying disease, he said.


"They are afraid that a lot of these people are not going to really read this resolution. Some people will come here thinking there is freedom. We are giving them false hope," he said.

Opponents of the resolution had planned to file a motion for reconsideration of the council's vote, said Russell, but missed the Wednesday noon filing deadline. The council meets again April 22:

Jeb Bruggman, director of the Cambridge Commission on Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, said he has received several phone calls against the resolution, mostly anonymous.

"They're about housing and bigotry," he said. "It's very disturbing."