MIRA & ACLU warn legislators of pitfalls of ICE detainer bill

A woman holds a sign in front of Massachusettes State House during a rally against Governor Baker's ICE detainer bill.A woman holds a sign in front of State House during a rally to oppose the Governor’s ICE detainer bill.

BOSTON, Aug. 10, 2017 – MIRA and the ACLU of Massachusetts today distributed a memorandum to state legislators in which they outline their legal analysis of the recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling on immigrant detention and of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed legislation that seeks to undo that ruling.

As the memo explains, the Court held in Commonwealth v. Lunn that it is unlawful for local law enforcement officials to hold a person solely at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Baker’s proposed legislation asks the Legislature to create new authority for such detention.

“The [Supreme Judicial Court] decision is based on statutory and common law, but aligns with core constitutional principles regarding due process,” the memo explains. “Any attempt to authorize state and local law enforcement to hold people on the basis of a mere ICE detainer request, including the bill filed by Governor Baker on August 1, 2017, would be unconstitutional.”

The memo elaborates on arguments made in a Boston Globe op-ed this week by Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA, and Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. The op-ed highlighted constitutional concerns as well as the need to advance policies that make all Massachusetts residents feel safe in their communities, regardless of where they were born. 

“Newly filed legislation from Governor Baker is fundamentally flawed because it would authorize police to detain a person without probable cause that they have committed a crime,” the memo adds. “Not only would it undermine public safety by causing residents to fear their local police; it would invite costly and unnecessary litigation about its constitutionality.”

Along with warning about the problems with the Governor’s bill, the memo calls on the Legislature to pass the Safe Communities Act, which aims to further protect Massachusetts residents from an overreaching federal immigration system by banning contracts that deputize local agents to assume federal powers to act as ICE agents; setting standards regarding when to notify ICE that an individual is in state or local custody; and requiring due process protections.

“Massachusetts has often led the nation in advancing due process and civil rights. Any attempt to take away those rights and revert to a system that supports Trump’s politically motivated anti-immigrant policies would be a huge step in the wrong direction,” the memo concludes.

Read the full memo ►

Read the Boston Globe op-ed on the Governor’s bill ►

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