On 2 Year Anniversary of SComm in MA, Groups Rally for
End to Deportation Program & Passage of State Trust Act
State bill pending in Senate Ways & Means Committee
would limit local application of ICE immigrant holds
May 15, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts — On the two year anniversary of the statewide implementation of President Obama’s Se Communities deportation program (“SComm”) in Massachusetts, immigrant and civil rights groups rallied at the steps of the MA Statehouse calling for an end to the program and for elected officials to limit participation by passing local and state “trust” policies.
Speakers included state Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), sponsor of the MA Trust Act (S.1135); Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Interim Police Chief Charles Femino, early supporters of the bill; faith, labor, and Latino leaders; and individuals fighting deportations of loved ones, many with signs reading “Restore Trust, End SComm,” and “2 years, 2 many.”
“As today marks the 2-year anniversary since Se Communities was activated in Massachusetts, it is encouraging to see a local police chief, advocates, lawmakers, faith members, and labor groups express their support for the MA Trust Act,” said Sen. Eldridge. “This bill would keep families together and work to repair the rift between immigrant communities and local law enforcement to keep our communities safe.”
In May 2012, the federal government forced MA to participate in SComm, a federal deportation dragnet program, over the objections of Gov. Patrick, law enforcement, legislators, and community members. For two years, the program has been widely criticized for needlessly separating hundreds of MA families and widely discouraging individuals from reaching out to local police for assistance.
The MA Trust Act, now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee chaired by Sen. Stephen Brewer, would create standards for local police’s collaboration with federal immigration enforcement. Today, over 60 jurisdictions including CA and CT have passed a version of the Trust Act to limit local application of ICE holds, a tool of the federal deportation dragnet. Adding to this momentum, a federal court decided last month that the local application of an ICE hold constituted a violation of the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In MA, the pressure to end the use of ICE holds is also rising. Last month, 19 activists were arrested in a civil disobedience at the Suffolk Detention Center calling for an end to SComm and condemning the President’s record 2 million deportations since taking office.
“This is an urgent matter, police do not need to be doing the work of immigration enforcement, stopping individuals because they are Hispanic,” said Santos Gutierrez at the rally today. Gutierrez, an immigrant member of Springfield-based Just Communities, is fighting to stop the deportation of her own husband who was detained on an ICE hold. A judge had dismissed her husband’s charges, saying he was a victim of racial profiling, but the ICE hold ensured he was transferred to ICE and now faces deportation.
“I cannot bear to see families suffer as mine has had to suffer. We need the MA Trust Act, that’s why we’re here today,” said Gutierrez.