Gov. Deval Patrick refuses to sign immigration program
By Hillary Chabot
Monday, June 6, 2011
A backpedaling Gov. Deval Patrick refused to sign onto a national security program — already in place in Boston — that would target illegal immigrants who have already been arrested, citing concerns about its effectiveness and potential for racial profiling.
“The Governor and I are dubious of the Commonwealth taking on the federal role of immigration enforcement,” wrote Patrick’s Secretary of Public Safety Mary Beth Heffernan in a letter to Immigration Customs Enforcement officials. “We are even more skeptical of the potential impact that Secure Communities could have on the residents of the Commonwealth. Through the community meetings we have held around the Commonwealth, residents have expressed concerns about racial profiling as a result of the program.”
Patrick said he would sign onto the program last December when the White House indicated participation was mandatory — but Patrick’s administration suggested that required involvement is up in the air.
The letter, which Patrick’s administration sent Friday, also charges ICE officials with “sending conflicting messages” about the Secure Communities program. Patrick’s move comes as two other states pulled out of the program over the last few months.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week he was withdrawing from Secure Communities, saying it hasn’t deported felons. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn decided in early May to bow out of the program, saying many of the people deported hadn’t committed a serious crime.
Lawmakers in California are also pushing legislation that would withdraw the state from the program.
The Secure Communities Program requires participating law enforcement agencies to share data on criminal suspects with federal immigration authorities. The Boston Police Department have participated successfully since 2006, and it’s meant to identify and deport violent criminals.