The Associated Press

Mass. Won’t Join Immigration Check Program

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick has decided Massachusetts won’t participate in a federal program that checks the immigration status of people who are arrested.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Massachusetts Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan said Patrick won’t sign any memorandum of understanding for the state to join the federal Secure Communities program.

Patrick had previously said he believed the state might have no choice but to participate in the program.

In the letter, Heffernan said that while Patrick believes that serious criminals who are in the country illegally should be deported, he does not believe that the Secure Communities program accomplishes that objective.

Heffernan cited statistics from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office that she said shows only about one in four of those deported since the start of Boston’s pilot participation in the program were convicted of a serious crime.

More than half of those deported were identified as “non-criminal,” she said.

“The governor and I are dubious of the Commonwealth taking on the federal role of immigration enforcement,” Heffernan wrote in the letter dated Friday and released by the administration Monday. “We are even more skeptical of the potential impact that Secure Communities could have on the residents of the Commonwealth.”

Defenders of the program say it only targets immigrants arrested for committing violent crimes and is not an effort to enforce federal immigration laws.

Heffernan said some law enforcement officials have said they fear the program is too broad and could deter the reporting of crime. Domestic violence advocates have also said they are worried the program could discourage victims from going to police.

“We are reluctant to participate if the program is mandatory and unwilling to participate if it is voluntary,” she wrote.

The program has been contentious in Massachusetts and other states.

Immigrant advocacy groups had urged Patrick not to sign onto the program, saying it could discourage immigrants from reporting crimes while encouraging police to practice racial profiling.

Massachusetts isn’t alone in opting out.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suspended that state’s participation in the program. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has also said Illinois won’t participate. And California is weighing legislation that would let individual communities opt out.

Earlier:

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  • mary

    Patrick is a gutless coward.

  • http://twitter.com/MikesNewsWire Mike’s News Wire

    Catch and release. Like an undersized striper! 

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one who understands that people who come here illegally are breaking the law?  I have many friends who have immigrated to this country legally, they did all the right things and this is a slap in the face to them.

  • Anonymous

    The legal citizens of America are getting fed up with the politicians that are catering to illegals. Our voices were heard in the last election and they will be heard loud and clear in the next election when we vote out all these politicians who are not doing their jobs and representing the American people but instead the illegals and criminal ones at that!

    This country can not afford to take on all these illegal immigrants we are having trouble providing services and jobs for the people who are here legally. We can not afford to import more poverty and all the statistics and data bears out that illegals are poor and require services. Every illegal that enters this country cost us money and lots of it! They get fake SS #s (surprise, surprise, they commit yet another crime against us) and use it to obtain food stamps, housing, education, fuel assistance, etc.

    And on top of that they degrade the moral fiber of this country. Remember they broke the law to get here and then broke the law again to obtain employment. These are not the kind of people we want to build our country with.

  • intelligent bartender

    How did he get elected a second term? Is he going to refuse to fingerprint criminals next?!

  • civa57

    We can only hope the Fed will yank funding from Mass. due to Patrick’s refusal to enforce the rule of law.  The last time I checked, there was nothing in the Constitution that said that one can be selective in the rule of law.

  • liz

    Patrick should be impeached.

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