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Election 2018: Democratic State Rep. Candidates Claims By TRTC Chair That They Support Sanctuary Cities

Jul 23, 2018 05:36PM ● By Bill Gilman

From left, 19th Middlesex District candidates Dave Robertson, Pina Prinzivalli and Mark Kratman.

The race in the 19th Middlesex District is starting to heat up.

Even though the Republican and Democratic Primaries are still six weeks away, one local group lobbed the first political volleys across party lines last week, on behalf of their chosen candidate.

Tewksbury Republican Town Committee Chairman Ruth Chou recently issued a statement accusing Democratic candidates Mark Kratman and Dave Robertson of supporting "sanctuary communities" and supporting efforts to get Massachusetts to declare itself a "sanctuary state."

Robertson and Kratman both flatly denied the claim.

The TRTC has endorsed Republican candidate Pina Prinzivalli, of Tewksbury, for the 19th Middlesex seat.

While the exact definition and application varies by community, the fundamental premise behind a "sanctuary" city, town or state is to limit efforts by local law enforcement officials to identify illegal immigrants, communicate that information with the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and detain them for transfer to Federal custody.

Recently, an amendment to the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 State Budget, which would have prevented Massachusetts law enforcement from cooperating with ICE, was voted down in the Legislature.

Chou, in the press release, said that had the amendment passed and made law, it would have had the effect of making Massachusetts a "sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants. She called out Kratman and Robertson, both Tewksbury residents, as being supporters of "sanctuary cities" and making Massachusetts a "sanctuary state," though neither candidate had made a public statement regarding the proposed amendment.

Chou claimed Robertson had "joined forces with Senator Elizabeth Warren in voicing their opposition to ICE." They cited a photo of Robertson and Warren, together, from several years ago and pointed to a quote from Robertson in an article that appeared in The Wilmington Apple, which included the phrase "ICE is disgraceful."

Robertson said Chou was taking the phrase out of context and labeled any claim that he supports sanctuary communities as "fake news."

"I never have nor ever will support sanctuary cities and the concepts of them," Robertson wrote, in an e-mail response. "Unlike my opponents, who have not mentioned any other policy regarding illegal immigration but sanctuary cities, I have vocally and formally opposed allowing illegal immigrants to vote in local elections."

Robertson also rejected the claim that he and Warren are connected politically and said the photo with Warren was taken as a gift for an ex-girlfriend, who was a fan of Warren and was attending Warren's law school alma mater at the time.

"I do not support Senator Warren and she does not support me," said Robertson. "In fact, I haven't spoken to her directly in any capacity in over two years, and never in any campaign related capacity."

Chou's press release went on to connect Kratman with his longtime political ally, state Sen. Barbara L'Italien, and her support for the budget amendment.

"L’Italien is one of the most outspoken advocates for becoming a Sanctuary State and has fought to protect sanctuary status and taxpayer funding for the city of Lawrence," Chou wrote, in part. "L’Italien helped jam the sanctuary amendment into the State Senate’s budget. Her endorsement is a clear indication that she believes Kratman is the one who best matches her ideals and principles."

Kratman, a Tewksbury selectman, acknowledged he and L'Italien have supported each other politically, but said he has his own opinions when it comes to "sanctuary communities."

"I absolutely oppose sanctuary cities," said Kratman, in a telephone interview. "What the Republican Town Committee put out in that release is totally not true. I strongly support our local and state law enforcement. I've worked hard and will continue to work hard to make sure they have what they need to be safe and to do their jobs."

Kratman went on to decry what he called "dirty politics" on the part of Chou and the Tewksbury Republican Town Committee on behalf of Prinzivalli.

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