To the Editor:

I wanted to share my thoughts on Parsippany Troy-Hills school district employee Nancy Choffo's letter to the editor of TAPinto.net regarding her fear that Parsippany has become a "sanctuary city” and “haven for criminal illegals.’’  Ms. Choffo has a right to express her opinions and clearly does not speak for anyone but herself. But it's troubling that a district employee would spread misinformation about a sensitive and controversial issue that could deeply affect families in town.

At a January town meeting in Mount Tabor, Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano answered a residents’ question by saying that he didn’t like the politically-charged term  “sanctuary city” but also doesn’t support using township tax dollars to detain unauthorized immigrants -- I'm presuming he meant people who aren't charged with felonies -- which is a federal responsibility. He expressed concerns that it would inhibit immigrant crime victims from coming forward. The township's policies on local law enforcement cooperating with ICE have yet to be clarified or finalized. But there seems to have been no significant uptick in crimes since then. In fact, there is little if any evidence to indicate that so-called sanctuary cities have higher crime rates than other cities, including a study by researchers at University of California, Riverside and Highline College.  In fact, some studies, including recent research from the University of California-San Diego, suggest crime rates are lower because residents who don't fear the threat of deportation for reporting crimes will be more likely to do so.

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Ms. Choffo's letter, and the language she uses, including the term “criminal illegal,’’  dehumanize unauthorized immigrants and associate them with criminality. It stigmatizes them as a population to be feared. Advocating for local policies that could increase the detention and deportation of unauthorized immigrants in town who are not a danger to the public could tear apart families and potentially result in the detention and deportation of our students.

I know that as a fellow Parsippany Hills High School band parent, Ms. Choffo has been dedicated to supporting the school’s marching band members, who are a very diverse group. I'm sure that as a school employee she cares very much about our students. Obviously, I disagree with her on this issue. But I hope our schools’ faculty and staff will be mindful of the accuracy and context of the information they share publicly and how their opinions might be received by all members of our community.

Sincerely,

Carrie Stetler