Text of Dear Colleague Letter
The Honorable Harold P. Naughton, Chair
Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security State House Room 167
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
The Honorable Michael O. Moore, Chair
Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security State House Room 109-B
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
RE: S. 1305/ H. 3269 – An act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents
Dear Honorable Chairs,
We write in support of S.1305/H.3269, The Safe Communities Act, and respectfully request that this bill be given a favorable report by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
A prior draft of this bill was heard by the committee in the previous two legislative sessions, and we are hoping that the bill will advance given the harmful impact that President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13768 (signed on January 25, 2017) is having on immigrant communities in Massachusetts and across the nation. According to ICE data obtained by WBUR, ICE arrests of non-criminal immigrants in New England have more than tripled under President Trump. Nationwide, between February and May of 2017, ICE arrested 108 undocumented immigrants daily with no criminal record, which represented an increase of 150% from the same time period in 2016, according to an ICE report.
This broad enforcement policy of President Trump’s executive order is consistent with public statements made by ICE officials. During a July 13, 2017 Fox News interview, Acting Director of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Thomas Homan said, “there’s no
population of alien that’s off the table anymore and we’ve been waiting on that for a decade now.” Additionally, in a February memo sent to ICE agents, Matthew Albence, ICE’s Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), stated: “effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.”
These aggressive immigration enforcement policies are leaving families fearful of accessing critical health care services and domestic violence victims fearful of seeking help. The orders also threaten the independence and effectiveness of Massachusetts law enforcement by encouraging ethnic profiling, undermining community-police relations, and preventing state resources from being used to improve public safety.
For these reasons, we are requesting your support for The Safe Communities Act, which would:
- Ensure that Massachusetts police resources are used to fight crime, not assist in federal immigrant enforcement.
- Prohibit state support for any Muslim registry.
- Prohibit collaboration agreements between the U.S. Department of Homeland Securityand law enforcement agencies that deputize state and local officers as immigration
- Ensure Due Process rights for immigrants who are detained in state and local facilities.
- Work in compliance with federal statute 8 U.S.C. § 1373, which prohibits state and localgovernments from restricting the exchange of information regarding citizenship and immigration status.
The Safe Communities Act would not prevent ICE agents from arresting and detaining immigrants in Massachusetts, but the bill ensures that our state resources are not used to enforce immigration policies that pose dire risks to public health and safety, or support federal efforts to discriminate based on a person’s race, ethnicity or religion. Such actions harm Massachusetts residents, make our communities less safe, and damage the Commonwealth’s economy.
We thank you for your attention and consideration of this important bill. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or my office.
Jamie Eldridge, State Senator Middlesex & Worcester
Juana Matias, State Representative 16th Essex