Campaign to Promote Legislation to Keep Loved Ones Out of Deportation System
BOSTON—Senator Eldridge (D-Acton) today threw his full support behind overhauling an immigration system that is badly broken and cruel toward innocent families at a press conference and rally in front of the State House. Joined by immigrant rights advocates and Massachusetts families impacted by deportation, Senator Eldridge highlighted legislation that would limit state efforts to enforce the controversial federal immigration law. Following the press conference and rally, a coalition of immigrant rights advocates visited legislative offices to make the case to revamp an unjust immigration system that is out of date to ensure equal opportunity for all.
“It is heartening to see so many community leaders band together to support the mission of this bill to protect some of our state’s most vulnerable families,” said Senator Eldridge. “The reality is that the immigration system currently in place is deeply flawed and in need of a new direction. As the nationwide focus shifts to meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform, this bill reaffirms our collective values at home and protects our families, sustains our communities and promotes hard work and opportunity that boosts our economy.”
Senator Eldridge was joined by State Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville) and immigrant rights advocates, including Centro Presente Executive Director Patricia Montes, Episcopal City Mission and Mass Interfaith Worker Justice President Reverend Norm Faramelli, Brazilian Immigrant Center Director Natalicia Tracy, Executive Secretary and Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council Rich Rogers and Massachusetts families impacted by deportation.
“I am encouraged to see so many people here today show support for Massachusetts families and reestablish the trust between local law enforcement and community members,” said Centro Presente Executive Director Patricia Montes. “The momentum for this bill is stronger than ever in Massachusetts and nationally and we won’t give up until we create permanent change and repair the trust between hardworking families and law enforcement.”
(S1135) An Act to Restore Community Trust in Massachusetts Law Enforcement makes it clear that it is not the responsibility of local government to use resources to submit to burdensome requests from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to detain people, unless the individual has committed a serious crime. State Representative Carl Sciortino (D-Medford) has filed the same version of the bill in the House of Representatives (H1613).
In May 2012, Immigration Custom and Enforcement (ICE) implemented the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program statewide in Massachusetts against the objections of Governor Patrick and various immigrant rights groups. Since its implementation, nearly 200 individuals have been deported through the S-Comm program–60% of those people have committed no crime at all and another 10% have only committed civil violations. Secure Communities has had devastating effects on the community, causing families to turn away from law enforcement as their fear of deportation makes individuals less likely to report crimes such as domestic violence, theft and assault.
States across the country, including California and Connecticut have introduced similar legislation taking the initiative to ensure that individuals who have no criminal record or have only committed a low-level offense do not become ensnared by the immigration system when they pose no threat to the public. At the municipal level, the New York City Council recently passed legislation that would limit the ability of immigration officials to detain individuals from being released from police custody.