BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker is now allowing state police to temporarily detain certain undocumented immigrants at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
Governor Baker told 22News Friday, “You literally have to have committed the kind of crime where you would end up being taken back to the barracks and put in a cell.”
At least one lawmaker worries immigrants will hesitate to report crimes in fear of deportation. State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) said, “When there’s distrust sewn with the police force, whether it’s local police or state police, then our communities are less safe for everyone.”
Governor Baker’s new order brings Massachusetts in line with President Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program. Local and state police won’t be able to stop or arrest people solely on the basis of their immigration status. This new policy targets mainly gang members and suspected terrorists wanted by the federal government.
State Representative Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) believes the directive could prove to be a burden on law enforcement.
“We’re asking so much from our local police and our state police to go above and beyond, dealing with the addiction crisis, dealing with mental illness, and now dealing with immigration? These are all things that they’re not all necessarily trained or equipped to do, so I think this is going to put an extra strain on the police,” said Rep. Vega.
Under the old policy, if the State Police arrested someone they could not contact ICE to see whether they posed a threat unless they had permission from a supervisor.
Governor Baker’s new policy went into effect on Thursday. State police will only be able to detain illegal immigrants on behalf of ICE for up to two days.