Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is taking steps to reverse a sanctuary policy — that shielded illegal immigrants from federal immigration enforcement officials — put in place under his predecessor Deval Patrick.
The Boston Herald reports that the Baker administration is lifting the 2014 policy prohibiting state police from holding illegal immigrants at the request of federal immigration officials.
“I think this strikes the right balance,” Baker said in an interview with the Herald.
Massachusetts’ renewed effort to cooperate with federal immigration authorities coincides with the Obama administration’s attempt to woo so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that have declined to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement by ditching the Secure Communities program in favor of its less comprehensive Priority Enforcement Program (PEP).
The new policy, Baker noted to the Herald, is intended to focus on criminals who “pose a significant threat.”
Indeed, the Obama administration’s interior immigration enforcement strategy under PEP has been fashioned to largely only enforce immigration law against illegal immigrants who commit sufficiently heinous crimes.
“This was about working collaboratively,” the newspaper quotes Baker, “that if there were people who had engaged in criminal activity, that the connectivity between the state and the feds would be there to ensure that we didn’t miss opportunities to remove them.”
While the state police will now be able to hold a deportable criminal alien for immigration authorities for up to 48 hours, they still will be barred from inquiring about an individuals immigration status.
Massachusetts Sen. President Stanley Rosenberg, a Democrat, criticized the move in an interview with Herald Radio Thursday, arguing that the policy could lead to an unequal application of the law.
“We know there are communities who have voted to be ‘safe havens’ — sanctuary cities — so now you are going to have uneven application of the law,” Rosenberg said. “And one of the points of having a law is everybody understands the rules and they follow the rules and it’s the same and just because you cross the border into another community doesn’t mean you have a different law that really should be consistent law across the state, and even more across the country.”