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Police Chiefs Back Baker Bill To Allow Officers To Comply With Certain ICE Detainers

This article is more than 3 years old.

Two of the state's largest police organizations have endorsed Gov. Charlie Baker's proposal to allow law enforcement, under certain circumstances, to detain arrestees at the request of federal immigration officers.

The heads of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the Major City Police Chiefs Association wrote a letter last week to the House and Senate chairs of the Judiciary Committee in support of Baker's bill (H 3780) that was filed in reaction to the Supreme Judicial Court's Lunn v. Commonwealth.

Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes and Middleton Chief James DiGianvittorio called the bill a "commonsense, policy prudent, and safety-orientated approach" in the wake of the court's ruling that detaining someone solely at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement constituted an unlawful arrest under Massachusetts law.

Baker has proposed to allow state and local law enforcement to honor ICE detainer requests by holding someone already in custody at the request of ICE for up to 12 hours if they have a serious prior crimnal record. Some Democrats and civil rights groups have criticized the bill for casting too wide a net for who could be detained and for potentially violating due process rights.

"While we are in agreement that civil immigration enforcement is primarily a federal law enforcement responsibility which should be decoupled from state and local police enforcement priorities, we remain steadfast in our commitment as officers sworn to protect and serve the public that we should be utilizing every strategic resource at our disposal to optimize and enhance the safety and security of our communities within legal boundaries," the police chiefs wrote.

The letter was sent last Friday to Sen. William Brownsberger and Rep. Claire Cronin, the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The committee has not yet held a hearing on Baker's bill.

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