An overflow crowd attended this afternoon's meeting of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates. County officials ran a video stream to a second meeting room so everyone in attendance could witness the proceedings.
Foremost on the agenda was a public hearing on the Assembly's proposed resolution to oppose Sheriff James Cummings' partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.
The first to address the Assembly was Sheriff Cummings himself, who stated unequivocally, "I put pubic safety first and foremost."
Cummings walked the Assembly through the process by which an inmate is entered into the ICE system to see if he or she has any immigration issues. The Sheriff stated that this partnership is entirely jail-based - only those processed to be held at the House of Correction are passed through the process.
The Sheriff stated that those sent to the House of Correction might be there to serve a sentence imposed by local courts or they may be held pending trial. The vast majority of those arrested on Cape Cod are bailed unless, as the Sheriff stated, they are a flight risk or have a history of default warrants for skipping court dates.
Sheriff Cummings took questions from Assembly delegates.
Following the Sheriff's remarks, twenty-three members of the public addressed the Assembly. Three supported the Sheriff's enforcement actions and the others opposed the ICE partnership.
Likely to the surprise of nearly everyone present, the Assembly voted to defeat the resolution that was originally proposed by Provincetown Delegate Brian O'Malley. Delegates from Barnstable (Patrick Princi), Bourne (Linda Zuern), Mashpee (Tom O'Hara), Sandwich (Jim Killion) and Yarmouth (Suzanne McAuliffe) voted against the resolution. Votes in the Assembly are weighted by population, so these five delegates' votes were sufficient to quash the measure.
Brewster resident Adam Lange, who spoke in support of the Sheriff's program, was astounded by the vote. "Only three speakers were there to support our Sheriff but, against all odds, David defeated Goliath tonight."
In November the Barnstable County Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter in support of Sheriff Cummings' immigration enforcement efforts.
Neither the County Commissioners nor the Assembly of Delegates have any authority over the Barnstable County Sheriff. Actions by both bodies are strictly symbolic.
The entire 2.5 hour video of the session is available below for your viewing pleasure.