State Police will now be allowed to temporarily detain undocumented immigrants flagged by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, under a new policy authorized by Gov. Charlie Baker this week.
Baker’s new policy, a reversal of a previous ban of such temporary detentions under former Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, will not allow police to stop or arrest people “solely on the basis of their immigration status,” according to a State House News report.
The new program will allow ICE to ask police to detain “removable aliens” if they are suspected of terrorism or espionage, have been convicted of gang-related crimes, felonies or a “significant misdemeanor,” including domestic violence or drug distribution.
Officials could also request the detention of an individual convicted of three or more misdemeanors stemming from three separate incidents, not including minor traffic violations, according the report.
"This policy revision gives the professionals of our statewide policing agency the tools necessary to detain criminals, gang members or suspected terrorists wanted by federal authorities," Baker said in a statement.
"As before, the State Police will not be enforcing immigration law nor will they inquire about immigration status; they will now be able to assist in detaining for our federal partners individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety or national security."
“With their statewide jurisdiction, the State Police encounter a broad range of individuals on a daily basis and it makes sense from a public safety perspective to allow them to report and temporarily hold any type of individual wanted by federal authorities,” Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett said in a statement.
"We do not question the governor's intent to keep us safe, but this is a very complex issue and we are concerned that this will increase fears among the community and this will backfire," Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition Executive Director Eva Millona told the news service.
The changes went into effect Thursday, Boston.com reported.