ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tours the Lynn Community Health Center.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — As President Donald Trump signed a new version of his controversial travel ban Monday while Sen. Elizabeth Warren was in town, the CEO of the Lynn Community Health Center said she fears for her staff’s family and patients who have uncertain immigration status.
“I’ve never been so upset about anything in my life,” said Lori Abrams Berry. “There’s a level of tension that everyone in this health center and in Lynn is feeling about this.”
Berry made her remarks during a roundtable conversation with Warren, local officials and clinic executives. The liberal Democratic senator toured the facility to learn how doctors are integrating services among specialties as well as with other health care providers.
Warren used portions of her 90 minutes in Lynn to unleash on Trump’s promise to withhold funds to so-called sanctuary cities, communities including Boston and Somerville, whose police forces refuse to assist federal immigration agents or inquire about immigration status.
“The Trump administration is trying to bully local mayors into changing policing so they’ll double down, so it’s no longer just the federal agents doing this,” she said. “That’s clearly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government cannot condition grants in one area on compliance in other areas … I met with mayors last week who are prepared to go to court the minute federal dollars are withheld to sanctuary cities.”
Berry’s comments came after the television news crews exited the room.
“One of our board members’ brother-in-law got picked up and is in detention because he was stopped for a minor traffic violation and didn’t have a license,” she said. “All the agencies in Lynn are very concerned about this. We need a rapid response network so we can start to help families. We are starting to feel like we need to give people information on their rights.”
Trump’s latest executive order on immigration and refugees still restricts new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and shuts down the nation’s refugee program.
The revised travel order leaves Iraq off the list of banned countries but still affects visitors from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.
Last month, in a speech to police chiefs, Trump asked for their help in identifying and deporting illegal immigrants.
“I want you to turn in the bad ones,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice, and we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence.”
In a question and answer session with reporters following the tour, Warren said she recently met with Seema Verma, Trump’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. Trump has said he favors restructuring funding for the Medicaid program, which provides health coverage to the poor and disabled, through block grants.
“I made it clear that I will try to work with her if she is confirmed and do everything possible to keep our community health centers in Massachusetts fully supported, and that means not doing block grants,” she said. “If people need healthcare, we need to find the most effective and economical ways to do it, but make sure we are able to deliver healthcare. We don’t say: ‘You’ve met some arbitrary cap with the state of Massachusetts, and now you’re done.’”
On Trump’s accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his New York home, Warren dismissed the allegation.
“It’s becoming clearer every day that President Trump is failing and he knows it,” she said. “That’s what these wild accusations are about.”
Thomas Grillo can be reached at email@example.com. Material from Associated Press was used in this report.