Op-Ed: Massachusetts Budget Stalled by Sanctuary State Amendment

Op-Ed: Massachusetts Budget Stalled by Sanctuary State Amendment

Massachusetts Budget Stalled by Sanctuary State Amendment

By Margaret Busse

Massachusetts claims first in the country status on many things, but this year our state legislature is last in the country to approve a state budget. The conference committee is now a full week late on sending a budget to the governor’s office and the number of outside amendments that propose major policy changes is a contributing factor.

Jamie Eldridge’s controversial and divisive sanctuary state amendment is one of the biggest problems.  Eldridge used an administrative process to attempt to enact legislation that was not popular enough to pass during regular session. The amendment addresses an issue that needs to be settled at the federal level and yet is holding back our state budget process.   

Eldridge’s budget amendment outlines several policies that tie the hands of law enforcement, the most concerning part being that local law enforcement will not be allowed to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. While some people may think this is a triumph for immigrant families, in actuality ICE performs many functions that helps protect all families – immigrant or otherwise – from harmful substances and criminals entering into our communities. Our local police officers are not conducting raids in our communities for the sole purpose of rounding up residents that do not have documentation. They are more concerned with drug traffickers and other felons that are distributing deadly opioids.

Customs agents are a first line of defense against opioids being imported into the country. Without agreements deputizing local police they cannot possibly fight the barrage of lethal substances coming through our ports, airfields, and highways. In 2017 ICE confiscated 2,383 pounds of fentanyl, enough to produce up to 1.6 billion doses of the drug. Almost 2,000 families in Massachusetts in 2017 alone have suffered loss. We cannot allow more families feel the sting of losing loved ones to addiction and overdose.

This amendment leaves us open to a dangerous precedent and dangerous streets. What is the next federal agency Eldridge will not allow to collaborate with local police officers? Will the Drug Enforcement Agency become the new villain as Massachusetts opens the doors for legal marijuana? Where does that leave the people of the Middlesex & Worcester district that he represents?

Eldridge is out of touch, out of step, and out of his district. He is spending his time going to other parts of the state, fighting for issues that can only be properly addressed by our congressional delegation.

There are many ramifications to slipping a sanctuary state amendment into the budget, the least of which is the budget being late. The Middlesex & Worcester district needs a senator that will represent their interests and turn their attention to what matters locally.

I have spent eight years in Acton’s town government, including as chair of the Acton 2020 Committee (master planning committee) and Chair of the Finance Committee.   I am now running for state senate because I am passionate about bringing people together around creating strong communities, supporting small businesses and the creation of good jobs, and ensuring our schools can effectively prepare your children and my children for the future.  The many voters and community leaders I have spoken with across this state senate district want a state senator who is close to the communities, focusing on their needs, not on grandstanding on national issues. 

This is my passion, this is my focus.  My campaign slogan says it all: It’s About You!

Margaret Busse is a resident of Acton and is running for State Senate in the Middlesex and Worcester District.