The time to act is now: Support the Safe Communities Act!
From the Boston Tea Party to the anti-slavery and marriage equality movements, Massachusetts has been a leader on civil rights. We need to show that same courage again today.
One in six Massachusetts residents is an immigrant. Yet under the Trump administration, our immigrant friends, neighbors and coworkers are being demonized and targeted for mass deportation. The federal government wants state and local law enforcement to serve as “force multipliers” for its crackdown on immigrants. The Safe Communities Act would stop that from happening in our state.
The Safe Communities Act protects the civil rights, safety and well-being of all residents by drawing a clear line between immigration enforcement and public safety. Sponsored by State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (S.1305) and State Rep. Juana Matías (H.3269), it ensures that our tax dollars are not used to help the Trump administration deport immigrant families or create a Muslim registry.
Nearly half the Massachusetts Legislature has co-sponsored the bill, and more than 100 organizations have endorsed it so far. On June 9, 2017, hundreds of people came to show their support at a hearing by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, with testimony from elected officials, to civil rights leaders, health care providers, educators and community members.
Now we need your help to keep up the momentum!
Key features of the Safe Communities Act
1. Focuses resources on local needs, not deportation
State and local police should use their limited resources to fight crime, not immigrant community members and their families. The bill would bar police from arresting or detaining a person solely for federal immigration enforcement purposes, or participating in U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigations or raids based solely on immigration status. It would also prohibit agreements to deputize state and local officers as federal immigration agents, co-opting and taking away resources from local communities. When police act as ICE agents, victims and witnesses of crime are afraid to call for help, which makes us all less safe.*
2. Upholds constitutional rights and due process
The bill ensures that constitutional principles are upheld equally for citizens and non-citizens, by requiring a warrant to arrest a person on behalf of ICE. It also requires notice to immigrant detainees of their legal rights – in a language they understand.
3. Bars state support for any Muslim registry
Prohibits Massachusetts law enforcement agencies and the Registry of Motor Vehicles from providing information to any federal registry program based on religion, national origin or other protected characteristics.
4. Strengthens our communities
Immigrants – both documented and undocumented – are part of our Commonwealth’s social and economic fabric. They are workers, business owners and active members of our communities. Most have lived here more than 10 years, and many have U.S. citizen children. In the face of anti-immigrant rhetoric and hostile federal policies, it is important to send a strong message that in our communities, we value all residents, regardless of where they were born.
The Safe Communities Act DOES NOT:
Break the law or jeopardize federal funding
The bill comports with federal law. It does not make Massachusetts a “sanctuary” jurisdiction as defined by Attorney General Sessions. It expressly complies with the federal statute regarding the exchange of information about citizenship or immigration status (8 U.S.C. § 1373), and would not impact the Commonwealth’s eligibility to receive federal funding.
Interfere with law enforcement
The bill would not stop police from doing their everyday work, arresting people in the course of a criminal investigation, or even working together with federal agencies to fight crime. It only limits their otherwise-voluntary collaboration with immigration enforcement. This is a question of civil federal law.
* For example, immigrant state residents are historically twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence homicide than are the native born, in large part because they fear separation from children or other family members through deportation. Most Massachusetts immigrant families are “mixed status” families – which means that different members have different statuses. Most have U.S. citizen children.
• NEW! Download a 1-page summary of what the Safe Communities Act does and doesn’t do
• Download a factsheet for printing, including a list of endorsing organizations (updated June 8, 2017)
• Descargue una hoja de datos en español acerca del Safe Communities Act
• Baixar uma folha de dados em Português sobre a Safe Communities Act
• Download a detailed backgrounder on the Safe Communities Act
• See a list of legislative sponsors of the Safe Communities Act (updated June 8, 2017)
If your organization would like to endorse the Safe Communities Act, please fill out this form!