News from MIRA

MIRA & ACLU warn legislators of pitfalls of ICE detainer bill

A woman holds a sign in front of Massachusettes State House during a rally against Governor Baker's ICE detainer bill.A woman holds a sign in front of State House during a rally to oppose the Governor’s ICE detainer bill.

BOSTON, Aug. 10, 2017 – MIRA and the ACLU of Massachusetts today distributed a memorandum to state legislators in which they outline their legal analysis of the recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling on immigrant detention and of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed legislation that seeks to undo that ruling.

As the memo explains, the Court held in Commonwealth v. Lunn that it is unlawful for local law enforcement officials to hold a person solely at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Baker’s proposed legislation asks the Legislature to create new authority for such detention.

“The [Supreme Judicial Court] decision is based on statutory and common law, but aligns with core constitutional principles regarding due process,” the memo explains. “Any attempt to authorize state and local law enforcement to hold people on the basis of a mere ICE detainer request, including the bill filed by Governor Baker on August 1, 2017, would be unconstitutional.”

Read more: MIRA & ACLU warn legislators of pitfalls of ICE detainer bill

Detainer bill would needlessly entangle police in ICE matters

ICE agent arrest
An ICE agent arrests an immigrant believed to be subject to deportation. Wikimedia Commons

The governor wants to give police the authority to hold people for ICE. Call him today – and call your legislators to urge them to kill this wrongheaded bill.

Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that police and court officers in our state don’t have the legal authority to detain anyone solely on a civil immigration matter.

It was a landmark decision that made national news: Massachusetts leading the way, standing up for civil rights and due process and rejecting the anti-immigrant policies that have stoked fear in our communities.

But where we saw cause for celebration, Gov. Charlie Baker saw a problem to be solved. On Aug. 1, he filed a bill to allow police across the state to honor civil detainer requests from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) for any “removable alien” deemed to pose a threat to public safety.

Read more: Detainer bill would needlessly entangle police in ICE matters

Mass. high court ruling a victory for due process, civil rights

Eva Millona testifies in support of the Safe Communities Act.
Eva Millona testifies in support of the Safe Communities Act.

‘Nothing in the statutes or common law’ of the state allows police or court officers to hold people on civil immigration detainers.

BOSTON, July 24, 2017 – Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that state officers – such as police, sheriffs and court officers – do not have the authority under state law to detain people on a civil immigration matter.

The case before the Court, SJC-12276, Sreynuon Lunn vs. Commonwealth, involved a man who was held on a voluntary civil detainer request from Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being arrested but then having all charges against him dismissed.

The Court found that holding someone under such circumstances constitutes an arrest under state law. No federal law gives state officers the power to make such an arrest, and based on a detailed review, the Court concluded that “nothing in the statutes or common law of Massachusetts” does, either.

“We are very pleased by the Court’s decision,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA. “It provides much-needed clarity for Massachusetts law enforcement at a time when they’re under a lot of pressure from the federal government to detain non-criminal immigrants and support deportation efforts.”

Read more: Mass. high court ruling a victory for due process, civil rights

Celebrating diversity: Somerville’s Nepal Festival 2017

Co-hosted by Greater Boston Nepali Community and the Somerville Arts Council, the Nepal Festival offered a great chance to experience vibrant Nepali culture.

Dancers perform Lok Dohori in traditional Nepali clothes at Union Square on June 9, 2017. Photo by Bishal Suwal Photography.

A man and a woman share the stage. The music gets a bit quieter for an exchange between the two: He sings what seems like a question, and she sings a quick response. After each round, performers in traditional Nepali clothes dance at the foot of the stage.

I don’t know Nepali, but I don’t need to understand the words to enjoy the singers’ sweet debate – or the laughs, applause, and cheers of the crowd. From the music to the performers’ voices, body language, facial expressions, and dances, it is a celebration of the community.

This is called Lok Dohori, and it’s a part of Nepali folk tradition. The singers are both well known: Min KC, Boston’s most popular folk singer, and Nisha Sunuwar, a popular singer in New York. For me, it was a highlight of Nepal Festival 2017, held in Somerville’s Union Square on June 9. 

Read more: Celebrating diversity: Somerville’s Nepal Festival 2017

At Irish Famine Memorial, a strong show of solidarity for immigrants

U.S. Sen. Markey joined a diverse group of advocates to decry the mass deportation agenda and anti-immigrant legislation and pledge continued resistance.

Eva Millona at Irish Famine Memorial July 2017MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona called for unity against the agenda of mass deportation and xenophobia.

BOSTON, July 6, 2017 – U.S. Senator Edward Markey today joined members of labor and nonprofit organizations by the Irish Famine Memorial in downtown Boston to show solidarity for immigrants and send a strong message to federal officials that immigrants have made America great for over 200 years.

“The Trump administration’s immigration policies are unfair, unconstitutional, and un-American,” Senator Markey said. “Instead of immoral and punitive proposals like the Muslim ban, border wall, and a deportation force, we should focus on what matters most to our immigrant communities – good jobs, quality education and safe neighborhoods. I will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform and to ensure that the American Dream is achievable for all.”

Senator Markey appeared with members of 32BJ SEIU, MIRA, Jobs with Justice and the Irish International Immigrant Center. Together, they condemned the mass deportation strategy of the Trump administration and anti-immigrant bills recently passed by Congress.

Read more: At Irish Famine Memorial, a strong show of solidarity for immigrants