Maura Healey Not Opposed To Making Massachusetts A Sanctuary State

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Should Massachusetts become a sanctuary state?

Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey is not opposed to the idea.

Healey voiced support for sanctuary cities in a February 2017 Political Happy Hour Discussion with Joshua Miller of The Boston Globe and expressed openness to the possibility of Massachusetts becoming a sanctuary state.

When Miller initially asked Healey whether or not Massachusetts should become a sanctuary state, Healey did not answer the question.

Instead, she took the opportunity to voice support for sanctuary cities and to make it known that she opposed President Donald Trump’s immigration policies; Trump ran in 2016 as an anti-illegal immigration hardliner. 

“I think this is an area where there’s some misinformation,” Healey said of sanctuary cities. “Sanctuary cities, and the term ‘sanctuary city’ has a different meaning in different places. It’s more a descriptive political term almost and less of a legal one in terms of what it actually means. What it may mean in practice may vary from city to city. And I’m a believer that — and having worked with a number of police departments and law enforcement agencies around this state — that those decisions and the decisions about the safety and well-being of a community are really best left to the local officials, local police chiefs, and certainly not the likes of a Donald Trump, and it’s one of many reasons that I’ve opposed what he’s done and often around immigration.”

The term “sanctuary city” usually refers to a municipality that welcomes illegal immigrants through local government services and limits cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Massachusetts has eight sanctuary cities, according to CBS News:  Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Concord, Newton, Northampton, and Somerville.

Healey went on to express satisfaction with the existing Massachusetts system. Under it, sanctuary cities exist, but Massachusetts itself is not officially a sanctuary state.

“I think we have a system that’s working well here. There are a number of places that have adopted a status as a sanctuary city and I think that that is working, so that’s probably what I think makes sense because, in practice, these efforts are going to be carried out — the direct engagement day-to-day — is actually between local officials and departments and members of the federal government.”

Miller pushed back. He asked Healey if her answer  meant that she opposed making Massachusetts a sanctuary state and supported keeping the status quo. 

To that question, Healey said no. 

“I’m not saying that I’m opposed to it,” Healey said. “I’m just saying that as a practical — and I think that the legislature is absolutely entitled to discuss and debate it. I also think just the fact that we’re having a conversation about immigration is good.”

A sanctuary state is a state that limits cooperation with federal law enforcement when it comes to enforcing immigration law, including deportations of illegal immigrants.

A bill known as the Safe Communities Act (H.2418/S.1579) has been proposed during the past three legislative sessions in Massachusetts to make the Bay State a sanctuary state, but it has never come up for a vote.

Supporters of the measure say that it will make communities safer because illegal immigrants who are victims of crime won’t be afraid to come forward to report crimes to the police. Supporters of the bill also don’t believe that illegal immigrants should be deported to their home countries.

Opponents of sanctuary cities say that they make communities less safe because they allow criminals to stay in the country.

Amanda Orlando, the campaign manager for Geoff Diehl, the Republican nominee for governor, and his running mate Leah Cole Allen, said that illegal immigration is an issue that sets the candidates apart.

“Geoff Diehl and Leah Allen have been very outspoken about their consistent and strong opposition to any policy that would make Massachusetts a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants,” Orlando told NewBostonPost by email. “This is a significant issue that separates them from their opponents in this race. In particular, Geoff and Leah were quick to push for Question Four to be put on the ballot this year, hoping to collect thousands of signatures in support of the repeal of the law giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration and the porosity of our nation’s borders needs to be solved on the national level, but its effects are felt locally. Geoff and Leah believe our state must remove any incentive for illegal immigration here within our state.”

Healey’s office could not be reached for comment on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Healey’s February 15, 2017 discussion with The Boston Globe is available below. Tthe sanctuary state discourse begins at 20:45.)



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