By Seth Daniel
For the second time this year, a few angry residents have taken to a City Council meeting to castigate Councillor Luis Tejada for an allegedly offensive posting made on social media.
Chelsea Collaborative Executive Director Gladys Vega and two other Collaborative members, including School Committeewoman Yessenia Alfaro Alvarez, took over the Public Speaking portion of Monday night’s meeting to sharply criticize Tejada for a recent posting on social media regarding immigration – specifically objecting to his use of the term ‘anchor babies’ within the post.
“As a city councillor using that term, it was extremely offensive and shame on him,” said Vega. “He should have a public meeting and explain himself…Those who come here, their reality is devastating. They are coming here because they are in desperate situations. Shame on Luis Tejada…Let’s make sure the next election, he doesn’t get back in office.”
Tejada, who was not at the meeting when the objections were made, told the Record he is away on a business conference in New York all week, and he didn’t want to respond to the criticism until he had a chance to view what was said on the recording.
He said the posting was made in response to video that showed former President Bill Clinton making similar statements about immigration in the 1990s as Donald Trump is making now.
A paper copy of the posting handed out by Vega indicated that Tejada was posting on a video that was shared by Planning Board member Todd Taylor regarding comments made about his opinion on immigration in 1995.
The post read in full, “I’m with you Todd Taylor. The fact is that illegal immigration is illegal and just because people choose to use fluff words like undocumented or do things like have anchor babies doesn’t lessen the crime. But we are becoming the anything goes country. Where anything goes and even if it pollutes the culture we must take it, otherwise we are racist bigots, etc. Shame on those who are selling our country out.”
Collaborative member Sylvia Ramirez pointed out that Tejada’s mother was an immigrant from Colombia, though she did not immigrate to the U.S. illegally.
“I am truly, truly ashamed that I need to call him one of our Latino newly elected councillors,” she said. “His mother is an immigrant…It is too bad the words he used to express himself. We need an explanation as a city about what he said.”
Alfaro Alvarez said she came across the border as a teen-ager without documentation, and though she did later legalize her immigration status, she came for the same reasons – to escape violence and fear.
She said Tejada should be careful about using social media.
“Here in Chelsea, the majority of us are from Central America,” she said. “Believe it or not, social media is a powerful took and it can embrace you or destroy you.”
Taylor, who was at the meeting, also addressed the issue during Public Speaking.
“It seems to me that people said he should be ashamed that he is Latino,” said Taylor. “I heard that if you are Latino, you have to believe like all other Latinos. That isn’t free speech. That sounds like bullying. Immigration is complex. It isn’t easy. I urge us to have an open conversation about the issue.”
Tejada found himself in trouble with social media earlier this year when he posted some responses to the new transgender law that was passed, asking what parents are supposed to do when they see a man go into the women’s bathroom with their kids. That triggered an angry letter from one member of the community, and disappointment from a few others, and also a public apology from Tejada.