Petition update

FAQ about the Safe Communities Act

Naomi Aron
Cambridge, MA

Apr 3, 2017 — I've run across a few of the same questions coming up from Democratic legislators who are hesitant about making MA a sanctuary state. So I have put this together to help you all talk about the Safe Communities Act with your elected representatives:

Does the Safe Communities Act violate federal law?
No. When ICE puts an “immigration detainer” on a person, this means they ask local police to hold that person in custody for an additional 48 hours after their scheduled release date so that ICE has more time to decide whether to initiate deportation proceedings. This is a request, not an order. In fact, these detainer requests are outside normal due process and open police departments up to lawsuits of violating the Fourth Amendment.

Would passing this law mean the state could lose federal money?
No. As per the Tenth Amendment, the federal government cannot commandeer state resources to carry out a federal program. States’ rights apply here, and withholding money as a coercive means has been found unconstitutional in court:

What about if an undocumented immigrant commits a horrific crime?
Then it’s up to local police to arrest that person and up to local prosecutors to have a good case against them. Handing someone over to ICE removes them entirely from our normal judicial system; it is an extrajudicial punishment. Consider the people who thought that the Marathon Bomber should not have been read his rights. This is a similar principle—that due process is somehow not tough enough. Consider, aside from this hypothetical, the very real harm that is being done in immigrant communities when people cannot go to the police.


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