We will not be bullied by Operation ‘Safe City’

BOSTON, September 29, 2017 – Yesterday, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it had arrested nearly 500 immigrants nationwide, including 50 in Massachusetts, as part of Operation “Safe City.” The four-day campaign targeted cities and regions that limit police cooperation with ICE, or refuse to hold people on civil immigration detainers.

Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA, issued the following statement in response:

“This is blatant political propaganda. The Trump administration wants to intimidate states and local communities into rounding up immigrants for deportation, and they’re willing to ruin hundreds or thousands of lives just to scare and shame us.

There is not a police department, sheriff or court in Massachusetts – or in this country – that will not honor a criminal arrest warrant. If federal officials want to arrest anyone on criminal charges, native- or foreign-born, every police department in our Commonwealth will work with them. In fact, just in the last few months we've seen prominent cases of “sanctuary cities” such as Somerville, Chelsea and Lawrence work closely with federal agencies to target gangs and drug dealers.

So this isn’t about crime at all. This is about communities refusing to violate their residents’ Constitutional rights so that it’s easier for ICE to jail and deport them. It’s about police recognizing that public trust is essential to public safety, because we need people to be able to call 911 when they’re in danger, and we need victims and witnesses to feel safe speaking to authorities. And it’s about shaming and harassing cities and states that take a public stand against the racist and xenophobic agenda of this administration.

It’s particularly telling that “Operation Safe City” targeted the entire state of Massachusetts as a “sanctuary” community. Even though police in our Commonwealth continue to work with federal authorities to promote public safety and keep criminals off the streets, the fact that our Supreme Judicial Court ruled against holding people on civil immigration detainers was enough to make us a target. Apparently the rule of law means nothing if it interferes with the deportation agenda.

We should also note that out of the 50 people arrested in Massachusetts, 20 had no criminal record at all, and it’s not clear that many of those who were arrested were serious offenders. More important, more than 1 million immigrants live in this state. In a pool that large, anyone can find at least a few dozen people with a criminal record to make examples out of.

We strongly condemn this action, and we urge Governor Baker and all our political leaders to stand with us. We will not be scared into rounding up our own people. In fact, this political stunt shows the urgency of passing the Safe Communities Act. We need to boldly defend Massachusetts values, the rule of law, and the Constitution.”