In a series of letter released on June 29, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights reminded Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, MA and Chief Brian Kyes of the police department in Chelsea, MA, that state and local engagement in federal immigration enforcement is fiscally irresponsible and dangerous for public safety.
Press reports recently indicated that Mayor Curtatone and Chief Kyes are supportive of Governor Baker’s new immigration policy which authorizes Massachusetts state police to engage in federal immigration enforcement.
When state and local police are co-opted into federal immigration enforcement, significant costs result from diverting personnel and prolonging detainment. In an era of scarce resources, it is fiscally irresponsible for towns to divert limited local resources to federal immigration enforcement activities.
Governor Baker’s new immigration policy is also dangerous for public safety. When state and local law enforcement become enmeshed in federal immigration enforcement, this sows deep mistrust in immigrant and minority communities and weakens public safety overall. When police officers are seen as immigration agents, victims and witnesses of crimes become reluctant to approach police for fear that this could lead to deportation for themselves or their families. This erosion of trust in law enforcement is harmful not only to immigrant communities, but to all citizens in the Commonwealth.
Governor Baker overturned the policy of his predecessor, Governor Deval Patrick, which limited state involvement in federal immigration efforts. There has been no showing that the previous policy resulted in any harm to the Commonwealth.
The Lawyers’ Committee will actively monitor state and local agencies as Governor Baker’s new immigration policy is implemented for compliance with federal and state civil rights and anti-discrimination laws.