Immigrant Activists Renew Push For 'Sanctuary State' Bill

Immigrant activists and state lawmakers are renewing the push to make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

Supporters of the Safe Communities Act said Tuesday they'll be resubmitting the proposal to the Legislature again this year.

Organizations ranging from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to Haitian-Americans United say the bill is an “essential component” of the state's pandemic response, as well as a “public safety imperative.”

Supporters also say the measure is needed to restore trust in local law enforcement. Some immigrants avoid calling 911, going to the hospital, or seeking police or court protection out of fear they might be reported to immigration officials, they say.

The proposal would end state and local law enforcement involvement in deportations, including ending so-called “287(g) agreements” that allow local jails and prisons to house federal immigration detainees.

Last year's bill would have also barred law enforcement and court personnel from asking a person about their immigration status and set limits for when they could notify federal officials of someone’s impending release.

A joint committee of the Democrat-controlled legislature recommended the bill for passage last year, but it ultimately fell short of full approval.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he's opposed to a statewide “sanctuary” law.



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