BOSTON (AP) — Immigration may not be as incendiary an issue in Massachusetts as it is in border states like Arizona and Mexico, yet the approach the state should take to those in the country illegally can still spark strong emotions.
Those emotions were most recently on display when Gov. Deval Patrick offered to host unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s southern border at one of two military bases in the state.
Democratic and Republican candidates for governor has outlined immigration policies.
Baker faulted political leaders in Washington for failing to reach a solution to the immigration crisis, leaving states to deal with their inaction.
Baker has said the state should take steps to exclude immigrants in the country illegally from public housing including automatically give preference to citizens and legal immigrants who are currently on lengthy waiting lists for subsidized housing.
“We are a nation of immigrants,” Baker said. “I value the diversity created by legal immigration that continues to shape our commonwealth in positive ways.”
The 2010 Republican nominee for governor also said that while states should work with the federal government to help provide emergency assistance, Massachusetts shouldn’t become the “steward or the financier” of those services — referring to Patrick’s offer to temporarily shelter unaccompanied children.
Coakley said as attorney general she’s worked with immigrant communities to address problems like domestic violence and gangs, and to protect workers from being exploited, regardless of their legal status.
If elected governor, the Democrat says she would support Patrick’s order extending in-state tuition rates to the children of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. She said she’d also support the so-called DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal status for many young immigrants in the country illegally.
Coakley also said changes to the federal Secure Communities program should be considered. Critics say the program, designed to help identify dangerous criminals in the country illegally, has also led to arrests and possible deportation for relatively minor crimes.
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