Gov criticizes ICE raid
Says agency shouldn’t target noncriminals
Federal immigration authorities should be targeting illegal immigrants with criminal records, Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday after raids this week swept up many who don’t have rap sheets.
“I really do think the focus of these should be on convicted, dangerous criminals,” Baker said. “Look, law enforcement resources are always stretched. The most effective thing the feds and, frankly, we can do to keep our streets safe is to focus on criminals.”
Federal immigration agents have detained 50 people across the state, 20 of whom did not have criminal records, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The so-called “Operation Safe City” rounded up 500 people nationwide in what ICE described as “targeted raids in sanctuary cities” — about two-thirds of whom were wanted on criminal charges.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, said in a statement Thursday. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
Baker, who said he was not given a heads-up about the raids, has filed a bill in the Legislature to allow state and local police to work with ICE in cases where an immigrant has been convicted of a violent crime.
“We here in Massachusetts are interested in supporting those who are here basically playing by the rules, going to work, going to school and being solid members of our community,” the Republican governor said.
This week’s raids, like other detentions since President Trump took office, are a marked shift from the Obama administration, which gave many noncriminal immigrants stays of deportation and largely targeted violent criminals, gang members and drug offenders.
“I have been very clear: Boston police will not be a part of this,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said of immigration enforcement targeting noncriminals.
Boston police were involved in the raids “in a limited capacity,” according to a department spokesman.
ICE has criticized sanctuary cities and specifically the Bay State for practices it says “shield criminal aliens and create a magnet for illegal immigration.”
“They can claim whatever they want,” Walsh said of that statement. “That is just not true.”
He added: “I just hope that if there is some type of attention being given to Massachusetts as far as raids, I just hope that all of the police in the commonwealth stay out of it as well, including the state police.”