05-22-14: Somerville immigration controversry: Where can immigrants go to become citizens?
SOMERVILLE, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is about to make a major announcement about illegal immigrants in his city. He's planning to sign an executive order Thursday to ban police from detaining people solely on immigration violations.
It's a controversial move and part of a new bill being pushed for the entire state called the Trust Act, which has already been passed in California.
Curtatone wants to bar police from holding illegal immigrants solely on the basis of their immigration status. He's quoted as saying it's morally responsible, but other officials have big concerns.
As the law stands now, if an immigrant is arrested, federal law allows US Customs and Immigration Enforcement to ask police to hold that person for an additional 48 hours after he or she has made bail or been ordered to be released. That allows deportation officers time to pick the person up.
The Secure Communities program allows ICE to screen the fingerprints of everyone arrested in an effort to track down people who are in this country illegally.
The executive order Curtatone plans to sign Thursday will bar his police officers from doing that. Somerville police will only hold illegal immigrants if they have a criminal warrant, or if there's some other non-immigration related reason.
"We have a broken system that everybody knows is broken. What we have is a set of laws, rules without any order, but to state that blindly detaining people just based on their immigration status is going to prevent that crime is not the case," Curtatone said.
According to the Boston Globe, the ACLU helped him craft the language of this order. And what it means is that if an illegal immigrant posts bail, immigration officers will have to figure out where to find them.
Curtatone says this is the morally responsible thing to do. He told the Boston Herald that the Secure Communities program is tearing families apart and discouraging illegal immigrants from reporting crimes.
But Jessica Vaughan from the Center of Immigration Studies told FOX 25, "this order is benefiting only the criminals." Vaughan has been on the FOX 25 news multiple times discussing the Secure Communities program.
The ICE issued the following statement Wednesday: "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will continue to work cooperatively with law-enforcement partners as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities through the identification and removal of convicted criminals and others who are public-safety threats."