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Tell Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick: Don't Jump on the Anti-Immigrant Bandwagon

This petition made change with 263 supporters!

When he took office in 2007, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick seemed like someone who would stand up for the rights of immigrants.   Indeed, former Governor Mitt Romney had recently signed an authorization for Massachusetts state troopers to detain undocumented immigrants and charge them with violating immigration law.  Governor Patrick rescinded it and immigrant communities breathed a sigh of relief.

Three years later, Governor Patrick has changed his stripes.  His administration announced late last week that it would sign an agreement with the federal government under the ironically-named Secure Communities initiative, which would requires state law enforcement officers to run the fingerprints of all arrested persons against an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database.

We need to tell Governor Patrick to think again.

The Secure Communities initiative is marketed as a way for the immigration enforcement agency to focus on removing the "right people," that is criminal immigrants.   The problem is, it doesn't actually work that way.   Instead, rights advocates criticize Secure Communities for destroying community confidence in law enforcement and increasing racial profiling.   Worse, localities that implement Secure Communities see large numbers of non-criminal immigrants deported, ripping apart families.

The Governor of Massachusetts should know this.  Secure Communities has been wreaking havoc on Boston-area families since 2006 when city police first joined the program.  The program has resulted in hundreds of deportations, and according to an ACLU analysis of deportations since 2008, more than half of the deportations are of non-criminals.    The real effect of Secure Communities has been to sweep up and deport hard-working immigrants for things like traffic violations. 

If Governor Patrick signs an agreement to enroll the state police in the Secure Communities initiative, this situation will only worsen.  The Governor's office argues that the program will be nationwide by 2013 by demand of the Obama administration, so not signing up now is just postponing the inevitable.   But, nothing is inevitable.  A state hold out to the Secure Communities program would send a clear message that the questions about Secure Communities are best cleared up by a just immigration reform.    If local jurisdictions make a stink about the problems with Secure Communities that will call into question the ICE's ability to implement "Secure Communities" nationwide by 2013.

If you're not in Boston, help get Governor Patrick the message that signing a Secure Communities agreement with ICE doesn't make us safer, it just puts members of our community at risk. 

Photo credit:  Nevele Otseog



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