Gov. Charlie Baker: Massachusetts Needs Immigration Detainer Policy

Baker filed the bill in 2017 after a ruling by the state's highest court but the Legislature didn't take it up at the time

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is urging lawmakers to revisit legislation that would let state and municipal law enforcement officers hold "violent and dangerous criminals" who face deportation, if a valid federal detainer request has been issued.

Baker filed the bill in 2017 after a ruling by the state's highest court that Massachusetts law does not allow police to hold individuals solely on the basis of a federal immigration detainer request.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature didn't take up the bill at the time.

"The fact that it sort of drifted here into the courthouses is a function of us not having a detainer policy in Massachusetts," Baker said Monday. "Statutorily, I think we should."

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Monday that he was unable to reach consensus in the House on legislation at the time, but didn't rule out a second look.

"That's something that really has to be vetted. It has to go through the committee process," he said. "We have to hear from folks on both sides of the issue."

Baker made the comments Monday after prosecutors in Massachusetts sued to block federal authorities from making arrests at courthouses of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Baker said he hadn't seen the lawsuit, but traced the presence of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents in courthouses to the 2017 ruling.

Baker also said Monday he did not believe the prosecution of the state judge by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling was politically motivated.

Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph was indicted Thursday on charges that she helped a man who was living in the U.S. illegally sneak out a back door of the courthouse to evade a waiting immigration enforcement agent.

Lelling said the charges were not meant to send a message about immigration policy. He said everyone must be held to the rule of law.

Baker, who appointed Joseph to the bench in 2015, has called the allegations against the judge troubling and worthy of investigation.

Baker's comments put him at odds with Maura Healey, the state's Democratic attorney general, who last week called the indictment "a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts."

Democratic Senate President Karen Splika also criticized Lelling on Monday, calling the indictment "somewhat unprecedented overreach."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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