Letter to the Editor

Reject the Sanctuary State Bill (HB 3573/SB1401)

Dear Editor,

Nationwide, from 2011 to 2018, non-citizens, mostly illegal aliens, committed 667,000 drug offenses, 42,000 robberies, 25,000 homicides, 91,000 sex crimes, 213,000 assaults, 95,000 weapons offenses, and 81,000 auto thefts, according to a report from the US General Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO also found that the average criminal alien had been arrested seven times. 

On December 2, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will hold a hearing on a bill that would make Massachusetts a Sanctuary State. The “safe communities” bill (HB 3573/SB1401) would protect criminal aliens from the justice system. 

Currently, police in most Massachusetts communities regularly exchange information about persons in custody with the Federal authorities, including the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This bill is aimed at thwarting that cooperation. 

In Massachusetts, criminal gangs routinely rob citizens, traffic narcotics, and perpetrate extortion. In one raid in 2015, Federal agents arrested 56 gang members in Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Revere, and Somerville. The indictment alleged that several of those charged are responsible for the murders of five people, and attempted murder of at least 14. These gangs frequently recruit prospective members—typically 14 to 15 years old—inside Massachusetts high schools with significant populations of immigrants from Central America, according to law enforcement officials. 

Many criminal aliens have avoided deportation by taking refuge in sanctuary jurisdictions, which in Massachusetts currently number 15 cities, including Cambridge and Boston. In the U.S. as a whole, there are 39 sanctuary cities, 364 sanctuary counties, and four sanctuary states.

Sanctuary advocates claim—without evidence—that cooperation between ICE and police would scare undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes. 

 Sanctuary policies have no impact whatsoever on relations between law enforcement and non-criminal aliens. The only effect is to protect those who are already in custody from deportation.

If this bill is enacted, those responsible for its enactment will share responsibility for all crimes committed by persons who should have been deported but were sheltered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Like most Americans, MCIR believes that non-citizens who commit serious crimes should be promptly deported and that local law enforcement officials should cooperate with the Federal government in identifying and removing criminal aliens. Reflecting this belief, the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act reasonably mandated the deportation of non-citizens convicted of crimes. 

Although most undocumented immigrants are not criminals, it’s hard to enter and live illegally in the US without committing crimes. Many pay criminal gangs thousands of dollars for travel to and entry into the U.S., and sometimes more for forged or stolen documents. Illegal immigrants frequently commit identity theft in order to be employable. Their presence weakens laws that protect unskilled workers, e.g., laws setting minimum wages and minimal acceptable working conditions.

If the authorities acted in accord with their responsibilities, the nation would be spared a large proportion of the offenses committed by illegal aliens.

MCIR urges legislators to reject this bill and further urges voters to make their opinions on this issue known to legislators. 

John Thompson

Steve Kropper

Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform (MCIR)

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