City Council: Police should ignore federal requests to hold people for immigration reasons

City councilors today backed a call to ask Boston Police to stop cooperating with federal immigration officials who want people held on suspicion of being in the country illegally when they are not facing criminal charges.

City Councilor Josh Zakim (Fenway, Mission Hill, Back Bay, Beacon Hill) said people should not be afraid of talking to police when they've been the victims of crimes themselves out of fear they might be picked up and deported.

Councilor Sal LaMattina (East Boston, Charlestown, North End), says he's heard from women who have been raped who won't report the crimes for fear of being turned into ICE - even when they know their attackers.

"It's about time that Boston takes a leadership role," Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) said. "Secure Communities does not secure communities. It actually destabilizes communities." Jackson pointed to protests out west against children being held in detention centers. "We have to do what the federal government isn't doing, which is to protect people in the city of Boston."

Councilors Yancey, Pressley and Wu also spoke in favor of Zakim's proposal. Other councilors said nothing about his proposal, which now goes to a council committee for study.



Free tagging: 



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City Residents: Everyone should ignore the City Council

Why stop there?

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The speed limit is also a mandate by the Fed, guess we can ignore those laws too

So, we can pick and choose what laws

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we feel like obeying and enforcing? Cool! But I'm a little confused by the many posters on uhub who harp about the U.S. being a 'country of laws'. Apparently, this only applies to specific pet subject matters.

The city government should be hard at work encouraging economic growth and employment, not encouraging more people to come to the city to fill a very limited number of jobs and overload social services.

No Law

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The only problem with your comment is that there is no actual law that would be broken. The Federal Government asked city and town law enforcement to detain people they suspected of being illegal immigrants. There is no law that says that the BPD HAS to detain those people it suspects of being here illegally.


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well doesn't the fed always trump local jurisdiction?

i.e. Federal law always trumps state law.

federal supremacy

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Hence, federal authorities should be enforcing federal law rather than trying to pawn enforcement off onto states and their political subdivisions. I can tell you from experience that when state or local law enforcement tries to enforce federal law, the feds go nuts. The federal government's one-way street view on things like this is foolish and only breeds contempt.

it's. not. a. law.

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Secure Communities is not a law. It was never enacted by any legislation by anyone. Federal immigration law is not enforced by non-federal law enforcement. What the S-Comm program does is set-up automatic data sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice (which already has its relationship set-up with local law enforcement) so that anyone (including US-born citizens) fingerprinted has their data immediately incorporated into DHS's database.

Then the feds call local law enforcement and request a "detainer" on the part of local law enforcement until they can send someone over to pick up the person and take them to a federal facility. These municipal declarations and whatnot are basically saying to the local law enforcement that they don't necessarily have to hold these individuals if they don't want to (conversely, have at it if you feel like it).

So if someone was mistakenly identified of having taken a chainsaw to the neighbor's children and is arrested and booked - but then it is revealed an hour later that someone else did it, they would be free to go. But if they were in DHS's database as having some immigration-related issue (not just being undocumented - but also perhaps just being here in a work permit is enough for them to say hold that guy), they could be held by local law enforcement without access to a lawyer or any phone calls to anyone for (in theory) 72 hours. There are stories of people being held far longer than that. At that point local law enforcement is actively involved in enforcing laws that are not their jurisdiction.

Local police who work in immigrant communities and believe in community policing methods typically don't like this (at least since the program was publicly revealed) as it leads to a general mistrust of cops. So what many are looking for is a nice showy declaration of a rejection of S-Comm while at the same time retaining the extra-judicial powers it gives them to hold people with no charges that they are authorized to enforce, when it seems like it would be a good thing to do so (in their judgement).

So, the guy was erroneously accused of chainsawing the children, but he happens to be a violent drunk who has been known to deal meth in the n'hood and kick puppies. So the cop opts to honor the detainer request and in a few short hours (days/weeks) this guy is taken out of the community. Or, he actually is a church-going, blood donor who works with orphans, and the cop ignores the detainer request, even though he may not have his immigration papers in order.

So leaving aside the long and painful (and fruitless) argument of "what part of illegal don't you unnerstand" the point is S-Comm isn't a law. These municipal resolutions don't stop the data-sharing component of the program. And the local cops still have the power to decide what they want to do in response to the Feds request to hold someone, when they themselves have no reason to hold them.

An excellent synopsis.

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And thanks.

Since you seem to know quite a lot about this, I have a couple of (non-snarky) questions.

At what point to the local police "detainers" become arrests or seizures of the person within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article 14 of the Declaration of Rights?

I'd imagine that the "detained" person is not free to go almost immediately, so what does the local cop say when asked "am I under arrest?" or "for what reason have I been arrested?"

On a liability note for the local cops, are they essentially being deputized as federal law enforcement when they undertake these "detainer" operations?

more S-Comm babble

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disclosure: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on tv. And I'm a smart-ass.

When a person is first stopped by police they have (in theory) all the rights afforded them by the Constitution and all that good stuff you hear about in Law & Order re-runs. Once it becomes clear that the person is not a US citizen (either they state it or ICE calls up the local precinct and tells them) all their rights are basically negated in that scenario currently - at least that's how it's been playing out for all these unlicensed, undocumented drivers who get pulled over.

They go before a judge, get told to pay a fine since they have been indeed driving illegally (we can say that because the act of driving without a license makes that act an illegal one - not the person) and then once they pay up, whereas a US citizen would then go on their way, this poor schmoe can now be spirited away to wherever, with any notice to anyone and no opportunity to speak to a lawyer. Essentially it's like Midnight Express, but without the hashish.

Normally, local cops who have a lot of real work to do typically don't like this situation - as it undermines community policing efforts (as mentioned above) but also it is indeed a case of them having to do someone else's job -- namely the feds. They incur the cost of housing and feeding this person (who they may know to not be a threat to the community) and it wastes their time and takes up limited cell space until they can transfer them to a county facility or one of ICE's centers (they have one in scenic and lovely Burlington). For cops in NH or out along 495 who get bored with breaking up high school keggers, this can give them a self-righteous rush of cleaning up the streets, but for most cops I think it's just a hassle and a distraction from real policing work.

Now Sheriffs on the other hand, get a good deal of money from the feds to house immigration cases. That's why they're all in favor of it. There are immigration cases over in the Suffolk jail by Melnea Cass and Mass Ave who've been there for a looong time. They are, for the most part, non-violent, and represent easy money for the county system.

I have no problem with the City

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refusing to comply with a Federal request, provided that same City is also willing to refuse all future Federal Aid for social programs, infrastructure improvements, and the like.

It doesn't work that way

But you have demonstrated your lacking understanding about federal contracts and programs before, so no surprise you don't get this, either.


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Or better yet,

City Residents:

City Residents should praise the City Council, or at least these six members.

And nona should go back to New Hampshire please.

Cafeteria Style Law Enforcement

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I can't figure out how or why this sort of mentality or policy could be valid. Isn't being in this country illegally a crime?
As the other poster said; isn't this a nation of laws? How can the city council direct the police department to ignore (break) the law? This would also be a crime. I'll remember this come election time.
Fire away everyone.

It's a Public Safety Issue

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If victims are afraid to report crimes, criminals go free. The police prefer to catch people who prey on others.

Imagine if the thief/rapist/murder goes on to commit crimes against citizens. Is that something you'd like to prevent? Or is it more important to send a non-violent, economy-contributing victim back to some third-world country?

Tha0t's the sole reason to

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That's the sole reason to not enforce immigration laws?

Wow, my poor grandparents had to wait, save up quite a bit of money, arrange for employment and housing before even attempting to come to the country. And when they did, they went through a screening process.

They didn't realize you could just walk in without all the headache and trouble.

What do you suggest we tell those who are waiting in their home countries, abiding by our laws (even though we can't), filling out paperwork, saving up the thousands of dollars? Should they go to the back of the line? Should we just tell them all to forget it, just come on over?

States don't enforce immigration laws

Cities don't enforce immigration laws.

Immigration is federal jurisdiction.


The federal government can ask the states and cities to hold people, but the cities and states can refuse to do so if they believe it interferes with other law enforcement, creates a bad social climate, pisses off big contributors who employ undocumented workers, results in US citizen children being abandoned to the social welfare system, clogs the lockup with people who would otherwise just go to work, etc.

Thanks Swirl

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Thanks Swirl, I was just gonna post that right as I was going into a meeting.

-- here's what I was going to write ---

When this first was announced last week I flipped a lid about this as it seems like its a pro-illegal immigration stance. And while many people (myself included) would see it that way. There's another point to this that people are forgetting.

Overcrowding and resources

Correct. Overcrowding & Resources avaliable. Jails are over crowded. Police coverage is very thin due to budget cut backs. Now the fed wants local govt's to hold and process these folks who did nearly nothing (except be here illegally) AND we get absolutely no $ for doing so? Yeah right.

So we are going to clog up the courts and jails with non-violent offenders because the fed says so. How safe is that?

It's not because the effort that could be used to find the real criminals is now being wasted on some mom with two kids who struggles to give her kids a better life but got a pulled over for a broke tail light and now is in jail waiting deportation (and separated from her kids). Who do you want to be in jail, a criminal or the mom who's struggling? See their point?

I'm as far away from a bleeding heart liberal who loves illegal immigrants but I see the point. I wish these politicians would be more clear about their reasoning and explain WHY than just saying "yeah we're not following the fed" which makes them look defiant.

What to do

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when the federal government is told by a sitting U.S. attorney general not to enforce federal law, and the federal government encourages unlawful behavior...hmmmm....what to do

I understand it is a federal

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I understand it is a federal enforcement, but what I don't understand is it against the law to come to the country illegally or not? What about those that are dreaming of coming here and following the guidelines we've set up?
Do we say to those people just save the hassle and come anyways?

It's a slippery slope and it gets slipperier when you've got sanctuary cities.

Separation of Powers

Feds get some, states get the rest.

States and cities don't have to help the federal government here for the same reason that Arizona can't make its own immigration laws. Very recent supreme court decision says so.

Federal turf, solidly established in the original constitution and bolstered by over two centuries of case law.


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States should be able to opt out of other Federal mandates?

This is where

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I agree and what gets me about the whole debate.

I have a friend of mine.. in the UK. Who works in biotech. He's been trying to immigrate to the US for years but needs to wait. Why is it fair to allow the ones that cross over illegal but not the ones who are doing so via the proper channels.

This is what I don't understand and disagree with the safe harbor thing that is going on. Its basically saying to those who do it legally.. "fuck you" and "welcome" to the ones who don't.

I see both sides of the argument..

I'm with you, cybah, it's a

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I'm with you, cybah, it's a complex issue and there are good points to be made on either side. Unfortunately, like every other issue, this one is polarized. This message board is a prime example of the public discourse on this topic (as is pretty much every other message board). More time is spent with people from one side throwing snark and anger at the other side. It's like people don't think through an issue anymore, they just run to the viewpoint they think is "liberal" or "conservative" and spout out talking points and/or rage. Questions and thoughts like yours and Patricia's are drowned out by Howie Carr wannabes and snarky libs. How can we expect Congress to resolve any of this when the American public is unwilling to talk to, or listen to , the other?

BTW, Patricia

You look kind of Irish to me ... and there were a lot of illegals here with their families when you were a kid, so your accent doesn't lessen my suspicions ...

Papers please! If you don't have your passport and birth certificate on you at all times, being of Irish ancestry and all, well, too bad - 72 hour lockup, no communication with someone who might supply that evidence of your citizenship. For all we know, you weren't born here.

This is happening in Arizona. To Americans born in the US.

It even happened to the rather elderly former governor of Arizona:

You could even be deported if nobody believed you:

Is that the kind of society you want to live in???

You know, I am sure my

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You know, I am sure my grandfather was treated in such a way as the Irish were not very welcome in Boston at that time, as everyone knows. Both grandfathers lived with "Irish Need Not Apply".

Proud men who wouldn't take a government hand out by any means and managed to provide for (one) very large family.

To be honest, compared to where they came from, being asked for ID wasn't really an issue.

Its a slippery slope when

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Its a slippery slope when certain ethnicities (like the Irish) have the quota numbers increased (Scott Brown worked on this) for a relatively small country while more and more barriers are put up for people of other ethnicities (Hondurans, Mexicans, Guatemalans). Its not like every person who wants to come in here has an equal shot, people from whiter European countries have different quotas and have a much easier time getting a visitors visa than people from Latin America or Africa. Take away preferential quotas to certain countries and make it equal to all before you start talking about following the biased guidelines.


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Nope, it's a compelling reason for local law enforcement to not do the Fed's job in this one particular set of circumstances.

I suggest our Congress get it's head out of it's south pole and pass some honest to goodness immigration reform that addresses the whole problem. I think they should reduce the bureaucracy and bandaids and process those legal requests in a timely fashion.

Prohibition didn't work for booze and it doesn't work for people.

"economy-contributing "

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"economy-contributing "

You misspelled:

-emergency-room-visiting (most expensive kind of medical care, and guess who pays for it...)
-income tax evading

You left out a few...

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- non-license driving
- unregistered
- uninsured
- lawful motorist-killing (See Matthew Denice, late of Milford MA)

But hey, they pay gas tax, so I guess all that other collateral damage stuff that I mentioned above is okay.

One example of that

Versus how many Dairyann Hess and other drunkass drugass examples who were legally born in the US and continue to drive after 5 DUIs?

Authorities not sharing

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Authorities not sharing information on visa overstays got us 9/11 and the Marathon bombings. Sure let's get right back to not allowing law enforcement to talk to each other.

"on suspicion of being in the

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"on suspicion of being in the country illegally when they are not facing criminal charges"

Talk about an oxymoron. Only a liberal would say it is not illegal to be illegal.

Suspicion isn't proof

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If I suspect you're an idiot even though you've not said anything idiotic, then it's not an oxymoron to say you're not an idiot.

However, you're an idiot.

its a complex issue

without getting into my thoughts on immigration, i think most reasonable people should agree that residents shouldn't be afraid to report a crime they've witnessed or been a victim of because of immigration status.

second to that, from a purely logistical standpoint, i have no interest in local PDs spending time, resources, and funding on immigration problems. its a federal border, let the federal government do their own laundry. we have enough of our own home grown problems to deal with.

i probably had more to say but i just lost power so thatll do for now.

Why is it that only citizens

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Why is it that only citizens and legal resident aliens seem to be the only people having to obey the law anymore?

This is actually a brilliant

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This is actually a brilliant plan to increase BPS enrollment and protect J-O-B-S! It will increase the # of families wanting to live in Boston too!


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Secure Communities is a joke.

Vice news just stared airing

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A Segment regarding Afgan interpreters who were promised a path to citizenship after fighting for their country. They were promised this under the Bush admin but have been denied under the current admin. Many of these men are in hiding after having their families murdered.

These men and others who have followed the law to the letter should take president over those entering illegally.

The main argument I see is that only those who have committed serious crimes should be deported. However, illegal immigrants start off their lives in the US by committing a serious crime. Coming into the country illegally.

If we wish to stay competitive we should follow Canada. Canada only allows those who have something to bring to the table in. Or the UK which bars new immigrants from utilizing social services for 5 years.

Were are in the age of globalization and technology, we don't need low skilled labor. The availability of low skilled lobor in this country is the main reason why our min wage workers are living under the poverty line. We have a major supply issue.

This was typed on a cellphone so F off.