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Baker Administration Drafting Bill To Allow State Police To Cooperate With ICE Detainers

Gov. Charlie Baker is exploring "legislative options" that would allow State Police to cooperate with federal immigration officials on some detainer requests, something the state's highest court ruled this week was illegal under current state law.

"The State Police will continue to cooperate with ICE to the extent that they are authorized to notify ICE of the arrest and impending release of criminals sought by the federal authorities," Baker's communications director, Lizzy Guyton, said in a statement Wednesday evening. "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."

The governor's proposal would seek to reinstate a policy put in place by the Baker administration in June 2016 broadening the level of cooperation between State Police and federal immigration police.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday that law enforcement officials in Massachusetts do not have the authority to detain a person based solely on a request from federal immigration authorities.

As WBUR's Shannon Dooling reported on Monday:

The detainer is a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold a person in custody whose criminal proceedings have been settled and who is otherwise free to go. This could mean the individual's charges have been dismissed, they've posted bail, or their jail sentence has been completed.

The detainer -- which is not the same as an arrest warrant, which requires proof of probable cause and a judge's signature -- gives ICE up to two days to look into a person's immigration status and potentially pursue deportation.

Aides said Baker will not seek to change the past policy that prevented state police from holding someone on an ICE detainer if they were taken into custody for a minor civil infraction such as a traffic violation.

The governor is expected to file the bill as soon as next week, just as the House and Senate are expected to begin their August recess.

Guyton noted in her statement that Baker does not support a proposal in the state legislature to make Massachusetts a so-called "sanctuary state," limiting by law how much state and local law enforcement could cooperate with federal immigration officials.

With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and the State House News Service

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