Illegal ‘immigrants’ driving without a license will be issued a summons instead of getting arrested in an effort to sidestep federal authorities, a new Cambridge ordinance orders, which city councilors say formalizes existing policy in the city.
“The Cambridge Police Department shall, whenever possible in the officer’s discretion and if there are no other violations causing the person to be arrested, issue a summons to court instead of taking the person into custody,” reads the Welcoming Community Ordinance passed last week.
Cambridge City Councilor Dennis Carlone said Cambridge Police have been very supportive of the measure, which also allows for officers to let the driver arrange for someone with a license to come and drive the car home so it is not impounded.
“This is just so basic that you don’t hurt people, and our system doesn’t allow them to have driver’s licenses, which I disagree with,” said Carlone, referring to illegal immigrants.
United States citizens will also be spared from arrest, according to Carlone. But any unlicensed driver will still be arrested if there are other reasons, such as an outstanding warrant, to do so.
Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies said the ordinance is a “foolish practice of relaxing law enforcement standards to make life easier for illegal aliens.”
Vaughan said, “It’s only going to encourage people to drive without a license and that’s not good for roadway safety.”
From 2017 through 2019, Cambridge Police charged unlicensed operation 278 times with 201 handled via summons and 77 via arrest. The arrests were likely in cases that included other charges, The Cambridge Chronicle reported.
Massachusetts law states first-time offenders are subject to a fine, imprisonment of up to 10 days, or both.
But Boston defense attorney Patrick Murphy said most cases he sees are dismissed, “By and large the judge and prosecutor and looking to resolve that for the defendants.”
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