The dishonestly-named 'Safe Communities Act' in Massachusetts

The original version of the Massachusetts ‘Safe Communities Act’ was filed in 2017 by Representative Juana Matias of Lawrence and Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton.

The bill would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from honoring requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to place holds on incarcerated illegal aliens. The move was made in reaction to newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

The proposal has been approved multiple times by the State Senate, but never by the House of Representatives. This, despite an overwhelming Democratic Party majority in both chambers.

Sessions in the Massachusetts General Court (the state legislature) are biennial. They are currently in their 191st session, which began at the start of 2019 and will continue through the end of 2020.

The current ‘Safe Communities Act’ proposal was introduced in January 2019 by State Senator Jamie Eldridge, a Democrat representing Middlesex and Worcester. Since then, the bill was referred to the committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and has received concurrence from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In addition to the prohibition on cooperation with ICE, the current proposal would also forbid law enforcement officers to question any person about their immigration status, unless required to by state or federal law.

On January 24, 2020, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a day-long hearing on the Act.

The colossal dishonesty of the name ‘Safe Communities Act’

The Act is supported by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, abbreviated MIRA. Their list of Key features of the Safe Communities Act contains severe distortions of reality.

This is the first item in their list:

Bars law enforcement and court personnel from asking people about their status unless required by law. The State Police already have a similar policy. Many immigrants fear that calling 911 or speaking to police will lead to separation from family members – especially children –making them more vulnerable to domestic abuse, wage theft and other crimes. This provision would send a strong message that in our Commonwealth, police protect us all.

As defined by the IRS (please keep in mind that this is one of the two certain things in this world), an alien is An individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national. An immigrant is An alien who has been granted the right by the USCIS to reside permanently in the United States and to work without restrictions in the United States.

Immigrants do not have to worry about being deported if they innocently report a crime to the police. Aliens who entered the country illegally are illegal aliens. MIRA is referring to illegal aliens, not immigrants. Only illegal aliens have to worry about being deported if law enforcement agencies detect their presence in the U.S.

Regarding their being left vulnerable to crime due to fear of contact with the police: They knowingly accepted this situation upon themselves by violating U.S. law and entering the country without authorization.

Jumping to the third item in MIRA's list of key features:

Bars police, court officers and jail officials from notifying ICE that someone is about to be released. This would help ensure that people aren’t put in ICE detention before their cases are fully adjudicated, which denies justice to victims and due process to defendants. ICE may still be notified when a person is being released upon completing a jail or prison sentence.

It is somehow taken by MIRA as ‘given’ that these people have a right to be here, and that there would be something inherently ‘wrong’ with deporting them — as if U.S. citizens have no right to decide who should and shouldn't be allowed to enter U.S. territory.

Furthermore: Due process for an illegal alien is deportation. Please take a look at 8 U.S. Code § 1227.Deportable aliens. Does it say, anywhere on that page, that before a person can be deported, you have to wait for them to commit a crime, and be tried and convicted in a criminal trial?

Moreover: This bill is perversely named “Safe Communities”, yet here they are trying to put roadblocks in the way of ICE agents coming to take custody of a deportable alien who is, of all the places in the world, in jail, having been arrested by the local police.