Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and nine of her counterparts across the country are calling on the Trump administration to provide more information about immigrants who have been deported or detained by federal agents.
“The lack of transparency surrounding the administration’s enforcement activities and priorities is greatly exacerbating the fear in immigrant communities and decreasing cooperation with local law enforcement,” Healey and the other attorneys general wrote in a six-page public records request to federal immigration agencies. “As the attorneys general of our respective states, we believe the chilling effect of these new policies undercuts public health, safety, and welfare.”
The request was sent Thursday to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and US Customs and Border Protection.
David Lapan, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the letter from the attorneys general would be handled like any other public records request.
“Many of the actions and policies raised in the press release are publicly available on our websites, and through Congressional testimony and media interviews,” Lapan said.
The request is the latest in a series of legal challenges Healey’s office has mounted against the Trump administration on a number of fronts, including its efforts to cut funding for the Affordable Care Act, ban travel from several countries, undo student loan regulations, reduce oversight of for-profit colleges, and loosen environmental rules for oil and gas producers.
She also has signed another dozen legal briefs, letters, and administrative requests in support of other states’ lawsuits against the travel ban and in opposition to administration policies related to the environment and consumer protection.
In Thursday’s request, Healey and the other attorneys general sought a series of documents they say the administration has refused to make public. They include records of any detentions and deportations of people who had been granted status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects some youthful unauthorized immigrants; the number of people arrested or detained within 100 feet of an immigrant’s job site; and any information about people detained based on wrong information about their legal status or because of mistaken identity.
The request also asks for statistics on the number of people detained within 100 feet of a courthouse. The Globe recently reported that lawyers and judges have seen a spike in the number of immigrants arrested by ICE agents in and around courthouses across the state.
“Our states, cities, and local law enforcement need real information about how federal immigration policies are being enforced in our communities in order to serve the public and keep people safe,” Healey said in a statement.
The other attorneys general who signed the letter are from California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, said the information the attorneys general are seeking is critical.
The request “is an important tool to be able to understand the full scope of the federal government enforcement and immigration activities,” he said.
The data could help immigration advocates develop more effective ways to inform immigrants about what is happening in their communities, he said.
“The second critically important piece is to test and assess whether the enforcement activities are being conducted in violation of local and state law,” Espinoza-Madrigal said.Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @globemcramer.