The announcement last week that Massachusetts has been added to the federal government’s Secure Communities program is disappointing on more than one level.
The stated purpose of the program is to remove criminal aliens who are threats to public safety, and to thereby make us safer. Yet it does neither: Fewer than half of the people deported under Secure Communities are the violent criminals who are its supposed targets, and the program breeds distrust between police and the community. We are less safe under Secure Communities.
In addition, the unilateral imposition of the program over Governor Patrick’s strong objection raises serious questions about our ability to weigh in on important decisions that affect us. We elected the governor, not federal immigration authorities, to oversee local law-enforcement priorities. The heavy-handed implementation of Secure Communities is a disturbing sidestep around the democratic process.
The writer chairs the New England chapter of the the American Immigration Lawyers Association.