The window of opportunity is closing on the Safe Communities Act, which is still languishing in subcommittee. We need to give it a big push! Unless the bill is favorably voted out of committee, there will be no way for it to come before the full legislature for a vote.
Call to Action
The Safe Communities Coalition is asking us to call our State Senators and Representatives on Wednesday, January 31st as part of its State-Wide Call-In Day:
Senator Julian Cyr: 617-722-1570
Representative Sarah Peake: 617-722-2040
Representative Timothy Whelan: 617-722-2014
Call even if you know they support the bill or are a co-sponsor. We need them to push the bill out of committee.
“My name is _____and I am your constituent. I live in ____[Town]. I am calling because I support the Safe Communities Act (S.1305) and want to urge _____[your legislator] to call the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security (Senator Moore and Representative Naughton) and ask them to give the bill a swift and favorable report before the February 7 report-out deadline.”
One in six Massachusetts residents is an immigrant. Yet under the Trump administration, our immigrant friends, neighbors and coworkers are being demonized and targeted for mass deportation. The federal government wants state and local law enforcement to serve as “force multipliers” for its crackdown on immigrants. The Safe Communities Act would stop that from happening in our state.
The Safe Communities Act protects the civil rights, safety and well-being of all residents by drawing a clear line between immigration enforcement and public safety. Sponsored by State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (S.1305) and State Rep. Juana Matías (H.3269), it ensures that our tax dollars are not used to help the Trump administration deport immigrant families or create a Muslim registry.
Nearly half the Massachusetts Legislature has co-sponsored the bill, and more than 100 organizations have endorsed it so far. On June 9, 2017, hundreds of people came to show their support at a hearing by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, with testimony from elected officials, to civil rights leaders, health care providers, educators and community members.
Key features of the Safe Communities Act
- Focuses resources on local needs, not deportation. State and local police should use their limited resources to fight crime, not immigrant community members and their families. The bill would bar police from arresting or detaining a person solely for federal immigration enforcement purposes, or participating in U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigations or raids based solely on immigration status. It would also prohibit agreements to deputize state and local officers as federal immigration agents, co-opting and taking away resources from local communities. When police act as ICE agents, victims and witnesses of crime are afraid to call for help, which makes us all less safe.*
- Upholds constitutional rights and due process. The bill ensures that constitutional principles are upheld equally for citizens and non-citizens, by requiring a warrant to arrest a person on behalf of ICE. It also requires notice to immigrant detainees of their legal rights – in a language they understand.
- Bars state support for any Muslim registry. Prohibits Massachusetts law enforcement agencies and the Registry of Motor Vehicles from providing information to any federal registry program based on religion, national origin or other protected characteristics.
- Strengthens our communities. Immigrants – both documented and undocumented – are part of our Commonwealth’s social and economic fabric. They are workers, business owners and active members of our communities. Most have lived here more than 10 years, and many have U.S. citizen children. In the face of anti-immigrant rhetoric and hostile federal policies, it is important to send a strong message that in our communities, we value all residents, regardless of where they were born.
The Safe Communities Act DOES NOT:
- Break the law or jeopardize federal funding
The bill comports with federal law. It does not make Massachusetts a “sanctuary” jurisdiction as defined by Attorney General Sessions. It expressly complies with the federal statute regarding the exchange of information about citizenship or immigration status (8 U.S.C. § 1373), and would not impact the Commonwealth’s eligibility to receive federal funding.
- Interfere with law enforcement
The bill would not stop police from doing their everyday work, arresting people in the course of a criminal investigation, or even working together with federal agencies to fight crime. It only limits their otherwise-voluntary collaboration with immigration enforcement. This is a question of civil federal law.
Source: Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition