Mass. Bill Would Prohibit State Funds To Be Used To Enforce U.S. Immigration Law

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Should Massachusetts become a so-called "sanctuary state" for immigrants and refugees?

There's certainly some potential risk to the idea since President Trump has threatened to halt federal funding to "sanctuary cities" that promise to protect residents who are in Massachusetts illegally. Boston, Somerville and Lawrence are three of those cities.

The subject is expected to be raised Wednesday on Beacon Hill as House Democrats caucus to talk about how to respond to President Trump's initiatives. They are expected to discuss a new bill called the "Safe Communities Act," which would prohibit state funds from being used to enforce federal immigration laws.

One of the co-sponsors of the bill is state Rep. Juana Matias, a Lawrence Democrat. She joined Morning Edition to discuss the proposal.

Interview Highlights

On key provisions within the bill 

Matias: "It has other expansive provisions that "sanctuary city" titles in the past have not. In our legislation, especially on the House side, [it] has a provision against a registry of Muslims. We specifically dictate in the legislation that we do not want to use any state resources. We do not want to utilize the Registry of Motor Vehicles to provide any information to help assist or support any registry that the federal government may be interested in implementing.

On likelihood of a veto by Gov. Baker

"We need to bring this issue to the floor, allow our members to vote on this matter and then bring it before him so that he can then decide if he wants to veto it or not. What was very impressive about our legislation in the first month was that hundreds and hundreds of residents called their state representatives. ... That’s why we were able to get 81 people in an amount of two weeks to get behind this initiative."

This segment aired on February 15, 2017.


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Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.


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Yasmin Amer is Executive Producer of WBUR's Radio Boston.



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