Should State Police, after arresting an immigrant on state criminal charges, detain the suspect at the request of federal immigration officials?

Should State Police, after arresting an immigrant on state criminal charges, detain the suspect at the request of federal immigration officials?


Paul Girouard

Burlington Town Meeting member, Republican candidate for state representative

Paul Girouard
Paul Girouardhandout

Governor Charlie Baker made the correct decision in reversing former governor Patrick’s executive order to prohibit State Police from inquiring about legal residency status from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on people in police custody or under investigation. This reversal by Baker will make our communities safer and bring our state back into compliance with federal law.

One of the basic responsibilities of our government is to keep us safe. When the State Police were not allowed to make inquiries to ICE, dangerous criminal illegal immigrants were allowed to remain in our neighborhoods.


A recent Globe review of 323 criminal illegal immigrants in New England from 2008 to 2012 found that as many as 30 percent committed new offenses, including rape, attempted murder and child molestation – a rate, the Globe reported, “that is markedly higher than (ICE) officials have suggested to Congress in the past.”

The article included terrifying stories. A Massachusetts man, the paper reported, “was supposed to be deported after he served his jail time for bashing his ex-girlfriend on the head with a hammer — but ICE released him in October 2009. Three months later, he found the ex-girlfriend and stabbed her repeatedly.”

Last April two men were arrested in Tewksbury for allegedly selling cocaine and heroin (subsequent offenses), near a pre-school. According to police, one of them was later determined not to be here legally. Shouldn’t he have been referred to ICE on the first offense? As a father, I think so. We need to keep our families safe. We owe it to our law-abiding citizens not to shelter criminal illegal immigrants.


Opponents of the governor’s decision will suggest that the police will go after people for minor offenses. As we can see from multiple news stories, serious criminals are being let back on our streets. While I trust our State Police, they do need cause to detain a person, so the argument by critics that this policy will be used to round up people is false. It’s a targeted policy for criminal illegal immigrants.

Moreover, Patrick’s dangerous policy jeopardized our state’s ability to obtain grants from the Department of Justice. US Representative John Culberson of Texas is pressing the Department of Justice to prohibit “sanctuary communities” — those that refuse to cooperate with ICE in enforcing immigration law — from being eligible for federal law enforcement grant money.

I applaud Governor Baker for making our communities safer.


Alexandra Piñeros Shields

Salem resident, executive director of the Essex County Community Organization

Alexandra Piñeros Shields
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In a time of national anti-immigrant rhetoric, and evidence of racial profiling by law enforcement, why would Governor Charlie Baker volunteer to participate in a program that racially profiles immigrants and destroys families through deportation?

The new policy allows State Police to cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain and deport people in State Police custody. It purports to bring State Police practices in line with the problematic federal “Priority Enforcement Program,” a new iteration of “Secure Communities” that was so widely criticized it had to be scraped and re-named as PEP. Even former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who ran Secure Communities, urged her home state, California, to opt out of voluntary collaboration with ICE. If Napolitano, who initiated this type of policy while governor of Arizona, acknowledges the failure of these programs, why would Massachusetts take on the costs of implementing a policy that racially profiles black and Latino immigrants?


Fiscally responsible, constitutionally informed, and morally guided governors in four states (California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Illinois) have refused to use their limited budget and staff to subsidize a federal program that does not keep us safer. ICE stopped publicly reporting statistics in 2015, but the latest data showed that about half of those deported from Massachusetts under the program over a seven-year period had never been convicted of any crime. And there is no evidence it will lead to any reduction in crime, based on a University of Chicago and New York University study of Secure Communities. Using five years of data, researchers concluded that “Secure Communities led to no meaningful reductions in the F.B.I. index crime rate. Nor has it reduced rates of violent crime — homicide, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault.”

Faith communities in the Essex County Community Organization denounce these policies that tear families apart. In Philadelphia, Pope Francis said, “Families have a citizenship that is divine. The identity card that they have is given to them by God . . . ”

The governor’s decision is misguided, ineffective, and immoral. Misguided because it requires our beleaguered law enforcement personnel to enforce a policy that has proven racial bias in a time of heightened scrutiny of police conduct. Ineffective because it traps immigrants with no criminal record. Immoral because it destroys black and Latino families, leaving children orphaned. Is this the kind of Commonwealth we want?

Globe correspondent John Laidler solicited opinions for this exchange. He can be reached at laidler@globe.com.