Candidates for governor pounced today on the Patrick administration’s refusal so far to sign up for a federal program aimed at finding and deporting immigrants with serious criminal records.
’It’s outrageous the Governor is dragging his feet about signing an agreement with federal immigration officials for a year now. Governor Patrick needs to step up and sign this agreement,’ Republican candidate Charlie Baker said at a press conference on the steps of the State House.
The denunciation came a day after FOX Undercover reported that Massachusetts has not yet signed an agreement with the federal government to join a program called Secure Communities, which runs the fingerprints of suspects arrested by local police through federal immigration databases.
Massachusetts officials haven’t signed an agreement given to them in September 2009 by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Without signing the agreement, federal immigration officials can’t activate Secure Communities statewide.
At Baker’s side was former US Attorney and fellow Republican Michael Sullivan, who said, ’There are criminal aliens that are allowed to walk the streets of the Commonwealth and across our country because Massachusetts is refusing to enter into this memorandum of agreement.’
Gov. Patrick’s Independent challenger in the race, state Treasurer Tim Cahill, also called for approving this agreement, saying in a letter to Patrick, ’"The Commonwealth's illegal immigration laws, are currently not adequately enforced, and approving this federal program is a step in the right direction."
FOX Undercover’s Mike Beaudet caught up with Gov. Patrick at a campaign event today.
’Do you support the Secure Communities program in Massachusetts?’ Beaudet asked.
’Well I think there's a pilot underway now in Boston. And we're watching that. And it's certainly a sensible pilot and we're trying to support that and understand it and then go from there,’ Patrick said.
’Why hasn't your administration signed the agreement with the federal government so far?’ Beaudet asked.
’Because the pilot's still underway, and as I said, if we're going to be thoughtful about this we should look at the results of that pilot and make our judgment and go from there,’ Patrick responded.
’It's rolled out in states all over the country. What exactly are you waiting for?’ Beaudet asked.
’You want me to say the same thing one more time?’ Patrick responded.
’No I'd like you to give us an answer. Do you support it or not?’ Beaudet asked.
’I just did. Thank you,’ Patrick said.
Boston’s pilot program that Patrick said he’s waiting for results from began four years ago -- before Patrick even took office.
Just this week, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told FOX 25 that the program has been a big success in his city. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley also supports Secure Communities.