Trump Continuing ‘Attack’ on Illegal Immigrants, AG Healey Says, As Sanctuary State Hearing Nears

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President Donald Trump and his administration are attacking immigrants in the United States, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said this week – days before so-called Sanctuary State legislation is expected to get a hearing on Beacon Hill.

Healey made the remarks Tuesday, November 26 at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s annual pre-Thanksgiving lunch at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. During the event immigrants and refugees talk about their experiences and meet elected officials, according to State House News Service.

“I know the statements and actions out of Washington D.C. have directly targeted so many of you in this room,” Healey said, according to State House News Service. “They continue to every single day. I know that immigrant families are living in fear, living with anxiety, not sure what is going to happen to them. That fear is real in Massachusetts and it’s real all across the country, and I know that the Trump Administration is doing everything it can to attack — and I mean attack — immigrant communities, to marginalize, to degrade, to take away rights, certainly to do everything it can to make the path to citizenship harder, but I want you to know we are more committed than ever to fighting this fight.”

State House News Service reported that Healey mentioned lawsuits her office has joined to try to keep a citizenship status question off next year’s 2020 federal census and to try to induce courts to continue the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program over President Trump’s determination to limit or curtail it.

The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security of the Massachusetts Legislature plans a hearing Monday, December 2 on a Sanctuary State bill that would limit state and local authorities’ cooperation with federal immigration officials seeking to detain or deport illegal immigrants.

The House and Senate have bills before them known as the Safe Communities Act, but titled “An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents.”

The bills (Massachusetts Senate Bill 1401 and Massachusetts House Bill 3573) include the following passages:

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no officer or employee of a law enforcement agency, while acting under color of law, shall question persons, including victims and witnesses of crimes, about their immigration status unless state or federal law requires the inquiry, provided that judges and magistrates may make such inquiries as are necessary to adjudicate matters within their jurisdictions.

… Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, an interview, including any informal questioning, between an agent of the United States Department of Homeland Security or state or local law enforcement agent and a person in the custody of a law enforcement agency conducted for immigration enforcement purposes shall take place only if the person in custody gives informed consent by signing a written consent form provided by the law enforcement agency. 

… Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no officer or employee of a law enforcement agency shall notify the United States Department of Homeland Security, including in response to a request on federal form I-247A or I-247-N or any other formal or informal request, about the pending or imminent release, from state or local custody, of a person who is being released for any reason other than the end of a sentence of incarceration for a criminal conviction; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall prohibit or restrain any state or local agency from sending to, or receiving from, any local, state, or federal agency, information regarding citizenship or immigration status.

The legislation has failed to gain traction in the Massachusetts Legislature during the past several years. Governor Charlie Baker has expressed opposition to making Massachusetts a so-called Sanctuary State.

The bill is a priority for advocates for illegal immigrants.

“We need to keep building political momentum to ensure that the SCA passes in this session,” the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition says on its web site. “That means legislators need to keep hearing from constituents, week after week, until we succeed.”

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition web site