Massachusetts Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Sanctuary State Bill

As reported by CBS Boston, Massachusetts legislators recently held an important hearing regarding the possibility of becoming a sanctuary state. If passed into law, the Safe Communities Act would limit interactions between state and local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officers. Additionally, the legislation also calls for an end to ‘287G Agreements’—through which state and local jails in Massachusetts can hold immigrants on behalf of ICE and DHS. Here, our Boston immigration attorneys explain the key details of the Safe Communities Act.  

Three Features of the Massachusetts Sanctuary State Legislation

1. Limiting of Questions About Immigration Status

To start, the Safe Communities Act puts significant limitations on the types of questions that law enforcement personnel and emergency first responders can ask about a person’s immigration status. Sadly, many undocumented immigrants feel that they cannot safely call 911 or speak to state/local police officers about a crime. The Massachusetts sanctuary state law seeks to change this environment—everyone should be able to feel safe in their own community. 

2. Restricts Law Enforcement Communication With ICE 

Next, the Safe Communities Act also puts considerable restrictions on the cooperation between Massachusetts police and ICE. Indeed, under the proposed legislation, police officers and prison officials would be barred from telling federal immigration agencies that an immigrant is about to be released from prison. Under the current system, immigrants who have been accused, but not convicted of an offense are sometimes transferred directly to an ICE detention facility. They are, in effect, denied the due process of law that is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. 

3. Eliminates the Use of 287G Agreements

Finally, the Safe Communities Act would eliminate the use of 287G agreements. These agreements are contracts with ICE that, essentially, let certain state and local government workers in Massachusetts act as federal immigration officers—at the expense of our tax dollars. Through these agreements, Massachusetts holds immigrants in state and local prisons on behalf of ICE. Four different agencies in the Commonwealth currently have a 287G agreement in place. Notably, we are the only state in New England that still permits these contracts.

The Sanctuary State Bill Faces a Veto Threat from the Governor

If the Massachusetts Sanctuary state bill does make it through the House and the Senate, it is still far from certain that the legislation will actually become law—at least in the near term. Republican Governor Charlie Baker has previously expressed his opposition to the bill and he has indicated his intention to veto the legislation should it pass. At this time, community support for sanctuary protections in Massachusetts is more important than ever.  

Contact Our Boston Immigration Attorneys Today

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Massachusetts immigration lawyers strive to provide exceptional, fully personalized legal representation to our clients. To arrange a completely confidential initial consultation with an experienced attorney, please call us today at (617) 722-0005. With an office in Boston, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Waltham, Newton, Weymouth, Somerville, and Medford. 


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