Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MA: State cops join Fed push on illegal immigrants

Massachusetts State Police will join a controversial federal program early next year to help the US government detect and deport illegal immigrants arrested for crimes, a sharp departure from Governor Deval Patrick’s 2007 decision barring troopers from enforcing immigration laws.

State officials said they decided to join Boston and scores of other communities in the federal program because its main focus is on detaining and deporting murderers, rapists, and other high-level criminals and because Patrick has supported using immigration laws to help deal with such offenders. They also said the Obama administration forced their decision because the program, known as Secure Communities, will become mandatory nationwide by 2013.

“It has always been the governor’s policy that serious criminals who were in the country illegally ought to be deported,’’ said John Grossman, an undersecretary at the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety. The US government “is rolling this out with or without us,’’ Grossman said. “It’s important that we participate and have a say . . . The alternative is to let it happen to us.’’

Patrick, who is widely viewed as supporting the concerns of immigrants, regardless of their legal status, faced heated criticism during his reelection campaign that he was stalling the Secure Communities program and putting communities at risk. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement formally launched the program in 2008 with a goal of sharing information with state and local law enforcement via computer databases to detect illegal immigrants.

Instead of having State Police actively search for illegal immigrants, the computer will automatically check the fingerprints of all who are arrested against federal immigration databases, in addition to the state and FBI criminal databases that are checked now. Then federal immigration officials decide whether to detain immigrants based on factors such as their criminal records and flight risk.

Ross Feinstein, spokesman for ICE, said that criminals are the agency’s top priority, but that anyone under arrest who is here illegally could be subject to deportation.

“ICE’s focus on those priorities does not amount to an amnesty for other aliens unlawfully present in the United States,’’ he said in a statement. “ICE continues to enforce the immigration law and exercises discretion as appropriate throughout the process.’’

He declined to comment on the state’s decision yesterday, but the issue quickly ignited a debate statewide. Advocates for immigrants said federal statistics show many low-level offenders, such as those caught driving without a license, are being swept up in Boston’s program and nationwide. They also fear the program will deter immigrants from reporting crime.

Others praised the system as a quick way to identify criminals and others here illegally. Backers include state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

It was unclear yesterday when Secure Communities would go online with the State Police and the rest of the state. The expanding program is now in 34 states.


Recent posts at CIS below

See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.

1. The Illusionary Allure of Immigration “Grand Bargains”: An Analysis of Blue Ribbon Task Forces (Paper)

2. NCLR to Republican Senators: 'Watch Out' (Blog)

3. Illegal Aliens Less Attractive to Senators than Gay Service People (Blog)

4. Requiem for a DREAM (Blog)

5. Defeat of the DREAM Act - A Time for Modified Rapture (Blog)

6. Senate Gives DREAMers a Reality Check (Blog)

7. Adventures in Babysitting (Blog)

8. Border Patrol Agent Terry's Death: Illegal Activity Escalating (Blog)

9. A Comparison of Two Exploitative Migrant Worker Programs, H-1B and L-1 (Blog)

10. Importing Labor the Flip Side of Offshoring (Blog)

11. Labor Department Zaps Newspaper for Abusing Its H-1B Workers (Blog)

12. DREAMs of Sugar Plums Dance in Their Heads (Blog)

13. Immigration System Preserves Archaic Agricultural Labor Practices (Blog)

14. DREAM Advocate: It's All About Race (Blog)

15. DREAM Act Will Shield Some Gang Members from Removal (Blog)

16. The DREAM Political Scheme (Blog)

17. Scary Scenario – China Invests in Bahamas, and Wants to Send Lots of Migrants (Blog)

18. Brits Have a New, Sophisticated Way to Determine Skills Shortages (Blog)

No comments:

Post a Comment