Mayor Martin J. Walsh doubled down his support for the city’s sanctuary status after the head of the New England ICE office pleaded for such cities to stop shielding illegal immigrants and “assist in making communities safer.”
“Boston’s diversity only makes our city stronger and I will never stop fighting for our immigrant community,” Walsh said Monday in a statement to the Herald. “A safe city is our first priority, and we will keep working to ensure all residents are safe in their communities.”
Todd Michael Lyons, the acting field director for U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston, said last week he’s calling for cooperation from sanctuary communities, asking them why “not rid communities of public safety threats?”
“We’re always two steps behind any criminal alien,” Lyons told the Herald Friday. “We can assist in making communities safer if the cooperation is there.”
A new report from ICE cites the arrests of 158,581 illegal immigrants nationwide, most of which were already targeted by police, and deportations of 256,000-plus in the last fiscal year.
The arrests included 2,908 illegal immigrants caught in New England, and almost all wanted on drug or other criminal charges. Some, according to Lyons, were let go by local judges, jails and police who ignored ICE detention orders.
Walsh’s statement included a copy of the city’s Trust Act, passed in 2014 by the City Council. The act forbids police from participating in immigration busts unless ICE has a criminal warrant.
The act states that ICE uses “local law enforcement data” to track illegal immigrants and order them held. “Honoring civil immigration detainer requests based on less than probable cause has been ruled a violation of the Fourth Amendment” — an unreasonable search and seizure — “exposing local law enforcement agencies to liability” under the law.
The Trust Act goes on to state public trust “erodes” and hinders police in doing their work — lumping Boston in with other sanctuary cities.
Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Lawrence, Newton, Northampton and Amherst are all considered sanctuary cities where immigration detainers have been ignored.
Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights previously told the Herald that immigration enforcement should focus on those who pose a threat to public safety and that ICE should not place blame on sanctuary cities.
“There’s a misunderstanding about the role of sanctuary protections at the local level,” she said, “and what immigration officials are suggesting is simply baseless. Sanctuary cities contribute to public safety.”
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