During the recent Senate budget debate, I voted in favor of the Civil Rights and Safety amendment (#1147), which was adopted in the Senate budget. Some of you might be familiar with this language, as it carries a similar intent to Senator Eldridge’s S.1305, better known as the “Safe Communities Act.” There has been a lot of misinformation regarding this amendment, so I would like to take a moment to clear up any confusion.
The amendment would: (1) ensure that local law enforcement resources are used to fight crime and keep local communities safe, not to assist federal immigration enforcement; (2) prohibit state collaboration with the federal government for the purpose of creating a federal registry program based on national origin or other protected characteristics; and (3) guarantee basic due process rights for immigrants detained in state and local facilities.
Nothing in this amendment offers protection, immunity or “sanctuary” to criminals. In fact, the amendment neither declares Massachusetts a “sanctuary” state nor does the word “sanctuary” appear anywhere in the amendment’s language. Furthermore, nothing in this amendment prohibits law enforcement from arresting an individual (citizen or not) who commits a crime. Finally, and also contrary to what has been stated by some, the language does not prohibit state law enforcement officials from honoring detainer requests from ICE, which is currently the law and has been since the 2017 Lunn v. Commonwealth decision.
To learn more about the Safe Communities Act, what it does, and what it DOES NOT do, please visit Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)’s website: https://www.miracoalition.org/safe-communities. In addition, if you are interested in reading the amendment language, you can view the full text at the following link: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/GetAmendmentContent/190/S4/1147/Senate/Content.