Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is drafting a bill that would give police the power to hold illegal aliens beyond the end of their state jail sentences, following a court ruling that such immigration detentions are illegal under current state law.
Baker’s bill would allow the Massachusetts State Police to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests for individuals who have posted bail for a state crime or previously been convicted of certain violent crimes, reports masslive.com.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is currently exploring legislative options that will give formal legal authority to the State Police to further cooperate with ICE by detaining individuals convicted of violent crimes such as murder or rape when ICE is unable to respond immediately to take them into custody,” Lizzy Guyton, Baker’s communications director, said in a statement Wednesday.
State police will continue to cooperate with immigration agents by notifying them of the impeding release of criminal aliens while the governor irons out the details of the legislation with Republican lawmakers, Guyton said.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday that state law does not allow law enforcement to keep people in jail without a criminal warrant or probable cause for a separate crime. The ruling effectively banned all state and local police from honoring ICE detainers, which are civil requests to hold criminal aliens for up to 48 hours so ICE agents have time to take them into custody. (RELATED: Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules State Can’t Enforce Immigration Detainers)
In response to Monday’s decision, Massachusetts Republicans introduced a bill that would would give police the power to arrest and detain people wanted on immigration detainers. It would also grant local law enforcement the authority to enforce federal immigration law, if they have probable cause to believe a violation has occurred.
“The people of Massachusetts deserve to have their communities safe,” Republican Rep. Jim Lyons, the bill’s sponsor, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday. “If there are federal laws that are out there that are being broken, we should be able to use the authority to protect the public.”
Baker’s effort appears to be more narrowly tailored that the Lyons bill. The governor’s aides say Baker will not seek to change an existing policy that prevents state police from holding someone on an ICE detainer if the defendant was arrested for a minor civil infraction such as a traffic violation, reports masslive.com.
Baker has previously indicated he does not support allowing state police to enforce immigration law or inquire about immigration status if is not part of a broader criminal investigation. However, he has promised to veto a proposal — backed by more than 60 Democratic lawmakers — that would stop police from holding undocumented immigrants without an arrest warrant.
“Governor Baker does not support a sanctuary state and believes the administration’s policy is an important public safety tool to keep our communities safe,” Guyton said.
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