Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has proposed a new policy that will allow State Police to contact federal immigration authorities for the purposes of verifying the immigration status of suspects already in custody on state criminal charges. In taking this step, Governor Baker, a Republican, is undoing the actions of his Democratic predecessor, ex-governor Deval Patrick. This new proposal will be put in place to allow federal law enforcement officials to better combat terrorism, gangs, and other activity of a criminal nature in the state of Massachusetts. This policy will affect undocumented immigrants, as well as legal permanent residents, with extensive criminal records or those convicted of serious crimes of moral turpitude.
State police will not be able to apprehend individuals based on immigration violations alone. Instead, as a result of this new policy, state troopers will be able to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and inquire with ICE whether a person in custody is considered a ‘priority target.’ A ‘priority target’ is someone who has extensive criminal history or poses a security risk. By law, state police cannot enforce federal immigration law, but they will be able to assist federal law enforcement officials in detaining individuals in custody who pose a significant threat to the country’s national security.