Action Alert
Tell legislators to disentangle Massachusetts law enforcement from the Trump administration's deportation machine

Governor Baker's proposed legislation would undermine a July 2017 landmark court decision, which held that Massachusetts law enforcement officers cannot warrantlessly hold people on ICE detainers.

Tell legislators to support efforts to disentangle Massachusetts law enforcement from the Trump administration's dragnet deportation machine.

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As your constituent, I urge you to support efforts to disentangle Massachusetts law enforcement from the Trump administration's dragnet deportation machine. Our state's highest court has taken an important step in the right direction, but we need to do more to protect all the residents of the Commonwealth.

On July 24, 2017, in Commonwealth v. Lunn, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that there is no authority under Massachusetts law for law enforcement to hold a person at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

While based on Massachusetts law, the decision aligns with core constitutional principles regarding due process. Any attempt to authorize state and local law enforcement to hold people on the basis of a mere ICE detainer request, including the bill filed by Governor Baker on August 1, 2017, would be unconstitutional.

In the wake of the Lunn decision, Massachusetts should strengthen its core values, not undermine them. It is now time to pass legislation to ensure our law enforcement officers do not go out of their way to assist ICE.

In particular, we should:

1) END 287(g) CONTRACTS.

These agreements are the most extreme form of collaboration with ICE, because they deputize local officers with federal powers to act as ICE agents -- at the expense of the local agency. Massachusetts law enforcement agencies should not spend our limited resources to take a pro-active role in federal immigration enforcement.


Notification should be authorized when a person is held for a serious offense, not for all matters. Massachusetts must not indiscriminately support the Trump administration's dragnet approach to deportation. Under Trump, ICE is detaining and deporting a much larger proportion of people with no past criminal records. In the absence of federal deportation priorities, Massachusetts should limit when we pro-actively bring a person to ICE's attention and thereby encourage federal agents to pick them up.


If ICE asks to interview a person in local custody, state law should make sure the person consents to the interview and is told they can retain an attorney at their own cost. Today, ICE agents sometimes interview people in custody in Massachusetts without identifying themselves, and the detained person ends up giving up many of their rights simply because they didn't know they had them.

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These critical reforms would complement the court decision in Lunn, and provide an antidote to the Trump deportation machine. They will enhance public safety by reassuring Massachusetts residents that state and local law enforcement is not out to deport them and by focusing resources on preventing and solving crime. Here in Massachusetts, we have an opportunity -- indeed, a responsibility -- to play a leadership role in moving fundamental rights forward.

P.S. For more information about the Lunn decision, problems with Gov. Baker's attempt to authorize warrantless detention of immigrants, and legislative efforts to protect all Massachusetts residents, see this August 10 memo by the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA):
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