President Trump was in New Hampshire Monday speaking about his plans to combat the opioid epidemic, when he called Lawrence, and other sanctuary cities, “safe havens for just some terrible people,” particularly opioid pushers and MS-13 gang members."
Spare Change News editor Alejandro Ramirez wrote a wonderful response to Trump's comments in today's Boston Globe. He traces Lawrence's economic decline and its history of racial animosity. See link to full article below:
It’s reminiscent of what some of the white kids would say back in high school — a Catholic school located in Lawrence but filled with students from (usually more affluent) surrounding towns. I’ve heard it all: Lawrence is full of drugs, crime, and, worst of all, immigrants — immigrants who pushed drugs and guns and danger.
Lawrence’s problems are well-documented, and its economic woes can be traced back to the 1940s. But no one ever talks about the history of Lawrence, how we can trace the decades of decline to its current struggles. Instead, Lawrence is discussed through white and xenophobic lenses that blame immigrants. Before the incoming waves of Latino migrants in the ’60s and ’70s, the mostly-white Lawrence was already suffering from abandonment and unemployment. The decline started when textile mills started to leave town in the late 1940s, and worsened when the city missed out on the suburban growth and early electronics boom that affected other towns along Route 128.
By the ’70s, a new wave of migrants, mostly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, had settled in the city. They moved into homes abandoned by white people and took jobs in the factories and mills that remained. White Lawrencians were hostile to the new migrants. In 1984, two nights of riots and fire erupted after whites vandalized a Latino-owned store; a few white kids told The New York Times that the rioting was “strictly racial” and they “hoped there would be more trouble.”