In 2011, Massachussetts Governor Deval Patrick sought to prevent the state’s participation in S-Comm due to its potential for racial profiling, threat to victims of crimes, and overly broad approach. A recent report exposed that more than 50% of people deported due to S-Comm in Massachusetts were people with no criminal convictions whatsoever. Now Massachussetts is joining a trend set by California, Connecticut, and other localities that have been forced against their will into the controversial deportation program to move a solution forward to protect public safety and restore trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement by introducing the TRUST Act (BILL # HB1613 and S1135).
“The federal Se Communities deportation program claims it targets people with serious convictions, but the vast majority of community members deported had no convictions, and most of the rest had convictions as minor as driving without a license.” ” said the bill’s author in the Senate, Senator Eldridge. “As President Obama begins to ramp up nationwide efforts on comprehensive immigration reform, greater momentum than ever before is on our side to fix an outdated system that is broken and deeply flawed. This bill is about restoring trust between innocent families and law enforcement that have been pitted against each other, easing the unfair burden currently placed on local governments, sustaining our economy and protecting our families for a greater sense of peace and community wellbeing.”
On Wednesday March 20th elected officials, community leaders, and families impacted by deportation launched a campaign to see passage of the bill with a rally on the statehouse steps followed by legislative visits for state officials to hear from people who have suffered the impact of the Se Communities program.
“This bill is first and foremost about safety and protecting all residents in our communities,” said the author of the bill in the House, Representative Carl Sciortino of Medford. “The Trust Act would establish a uniform statewide policy for our local law enforcement agencies on how they should interact with federal immigration enforcement. It would ensure that our public dollars are being used for our local law enforcement needs, and, most importantly, it would improve community-police relations so we can keep our communities safe.”
“We need to continue advocating for a rational, humane, and effective immigration policy. At the same time we also have to be proactive and promote pro‐immigrant policies at the state level. It is important to defend against misguided state initiatives designed to implement a more restrictive, punitive, and criminalizing immigration regime.” said Patricia Montes, Executive Director of Centro Presente and board member of NALACC.