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Boston Police Defend Status Checks

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

September 22, 2010

BOSTON, MA – Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, a strong critic of using police to enforce immigration laws, yesterday defended the city’s participation in a controversial federal program that automatically checks the immigration status of everyone arrested.

The goal of the controversial program, called Secure Communities, is to identify dangerous criminals and turn them over to the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for eventual deportation.

Advocates warn that noncriminals are being swept up at the same time.

But Davis said his staff reviewed the list of people caught through the program over the past two years and determined that all of those turned over to immigration officials met the goal of removing gang members and other criminals from the streets.


Edward F. Davis, the Boston police commissioner, said the program helps get criminals off the city’s streets.

“We’ve looked into each and every one of the cases, and we’re satisfied that the promise we made to the community still stands,’’ said Davis yesterday in his first interview on the matter. “We’ve made clear that if ICE begins to deport people who are simply being picked up for traffic violations and overstaying their visas, then we’re not going to participate in the program.’’

Many advocates for immigrants, however, say the program will deter immigrants from reporting crimes because they fear police.

“How can the Boston police say that this is going to give us more security?’’ said Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, an area nonprofit. “People are going to be afraid to report crimes. That means that crime will be occurring, and immigrants will be afraid to go to the police.’’

The controversy is unexpected in a city that is widely viewed as friendly to all immigrants and where 27.5 percent of the residents are foreign born.

Earlier this year the City Council passed a resolution boycotting Arizona because of its new immigration law.

In one of his first acts as commissioner in 2006, Davis decried a plan by Governor Mitt Romney to have State Police help enforce immigration law, saying that “expanding immigration enforcement to local police would have an overall negative effect on the department’s continued efforts to enhance community trust.’’

Federal statistics indicate that the Boston program has snared both violent and nonviolent offenders.

Of the 230 people turned over to ICE since the program began in 2008, nearly half had been convicted of crimes: 53 were violent offenders, such as murderers, rapists, and those who pose a threat to national security; 32 had committed a felony such as property crime or extortion; and 20 had multiple misdemeanor convictions, including minor drug offenses and disorderly conduct.

The remainder had been arrested for noncriminal immigration violations. Almost half have been deported.

But Davis said they were all involved in criminal activity, including those with criminal records from other states.

Advocates for immigrants, many of whom were unaware of the program until a WBUR report last month, are going on the offensive to protest the program.

Centro Presente, working with the ACLU of Massachusetts, will be rolling out educational seminars next month and publicizing the program on Spanish and Portuguese language radio stations.

Heloisa Galvao, head of the Brazilian Women’s Group in Allston, said a woman came to her recently after her husband was placed in deportation proceedings after being stopped by the Boston police. His family and those helping him could not figure out why. Now, she said, she believes it was because of Secure Communities.

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  • Police_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I don't understand why its such a big deal to deport illegal immigrants? They initially broke the law by SNEAKING IN! so when they finally get caught doing something or a background check is done and found to be illegal, why is it such a shock that they would be deported??

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Illegal is not a "RACE , RELIGION , or ETHNIC BACK ROUND" , It is a Law formulated by Congress to protect the Integrity of the United States from all Enemies of Foreign origin.


  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Deport the illegals when caught. Laws need to be enforced especially existing immigration laws. The case of America losing it's borders has never been as important of an issue as it is now! Take our Country back to what our founding fathers envisioned and process those that want to become citizens and those that don't want to do it the way our laws state will not honor their requests. United We Stand...

  • Msst03_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Oh fer the love of....I tell you, I'm sorely disappointed with the overall quality of 'immigrant rights' groups these days. There used to be at least some semblance of quality control, you'd get the occasional window-licker on the five-o'clock news just for laughs, but most of the spokespersons could be taken halfway seriously. These days, it seems like 90% of em' are deliberately selecting persons to represent them who are obviously in need of psychiatric help. I mean, they're not even TRYING to sound sane anymore. So much for the good old days.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    Bump all.

  • Ribbon_max50


    almost 4 years ago



  • Thinker_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Don't call ICE and let all those illegal MS-13 members run rampant throughout the country committing crimes, getting arrested, and then being released back into the communities, over and over and over! See how safe our communities will be then...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    The immigrants that Centro Presente and the ACLU, are trying to protect,have already violated our laws by sneaking into our country. Now if they get caught doing a crime, all of these people "boo hoo" the fact that we want to ship them back to their third world breeding ground. The people that protest the most are those that came legally. They are supposed to be on the side of real Americans, and protect what they and we have here. Deport the illegals when caught. Enforce existing immigration laws. Give the country back to Americans, and those that want to become Americans.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    As an officer of the law, I took an oath to uphold all of the laws, not just the ones that were popular or not enforce the ones that are politically incorrect, all of the laws, period.

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