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Immigrants' Rights

Local advocates outline the dangers of Governor Baker’s proposed immigration bill

Governor Baker’s proposed legislation in response to the State Supreme Court’s groundbreaking Lunn decision, which held that Massachusetts law enforcement officers cannot warrantlessly hold people on ICE detainers, would derail progress on immigrants’ rights.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, outline the dangers of the proposed bill in the Boston Globe:

As the SJC explained in its well-reasoned decision, holding someone for ICE if they would otherwise go free constitutes a second arrest. While the SJC based its decision on statutory grounds, there is also extensive constitutional support. Arresting someone solely on a civil immigration matter violates the Fourth Amendment, which forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The governor’s bill purports to set limits on who can be detained. ICE would have to submit a detainer request in writing, accompanied by an administrative warrant. A senior officer would sign off on the detention based on “specific facts” indicating that the person poses a threat to public safety. Holds exceeding 12 hours require a determination by an “appropriate judicial officer” that there is probable cause that the person is subject to immigration detention.

Yet the criteria by which someone can be deemed a “threat” are far too broad: from a suspicion of terrorism, to a conviction for a “violent” felony to a conviction for any felony—and, for that matter, any offense for which the jail sentence was at least 180 days.

That’s a lot of people—and not just undocumented immigrants, but anyone who could be deemed to be a “removable alien.” A green card holder who’s been lawfully here for decades—working hard and raising an American family—but who spent time in jail when he was 18, would meet the governor’s criteria. As we have seen in many cases across the country, “foreign”-looking US citizens who don’t carry their papers can be arrested and easily get caught up in the immigration net as well.

Continue reading in the Boston Globe, and tell your legislators to disentangle Massachusetts law enforcement from the Trump administration’s deportation machine.

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