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Massachusetts law does not authorize state officials to detain an immigrant for ICE agents, the state top's court recently ruled. Photo: File

Fifty immigrants were arrested in Massachusetts as part of a nationwide operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that specifically honed in on “sanctuary” cities and states.

Though Gov. Charlie Baker has been opposed to declaring Massachusetts a sanctuary state, mayors of multiple cities across the commonwealth have said that they will protect their immigrant populations and not use local officials to hold undocumented immigrants in order to turn them over to ICE.

The four-day ICE operation, which ended Wednesday and was dubbed Operation “Safe City,” according to an ICE statement, led to 498 arrests across the country.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” said ICE Acting Director Tom Homan in a statement “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”


The raid targeted those who have violated U.S. immigration laws and prioritized undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions, pending criminal charges and gang affiliations, according to ICE.

In Massachusetts, 50 individuals were arrested, at least one of whom was an Indian citizen who reportedly entered the U.S. illegally, was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 and was required to register as a sex offender, federal officials said.

Out of all 50 arrests here, 30 individuals had criminal records, according to information provided by ICE. Twenty of those arrested did not.

At least one of those arrested in Boston was an Indian citizen who entered the U.S. illegally, was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 and was required to register as a sex offender.

Although Baker has not officially declared Massachusetts a sanctuary state, a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling stated that local law enforcement cannot detain someone who is wanted just for immigration violations. 

The Boston Police Department was informed by ICE of the operation, according to department spokeswoman Officer Rachel Maguire.

“The Department's ICE liaison was involved in a limited capacity to assist with any Boston incidents,” she said in an email. 

The ACLU of Massachusetts took issue with ICE’s intent to target sanctuary cities, saying in a statement that in many cases, like in Massachusetts, the law does not authorize the kind of collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement that President Donald Trump “demands.”

“Attempts to bully state and local law enforcement into violating the constitution is no way to build cooperation between local, state, and federal government,” said Carol Rose, executive director of ACLU of Massachusetts, in a statement. “Worse, the Trump administration's fear-mongering and draconian deportation tactics erode trust between immigrant families and the law enforcement officials responsible for keeping communities safe. Using human beings as pawns in a cynical political game is cruel, inhumane and unacceptable.”

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