OPINION | Barry Richard: Baker Tries To Have It Both Ways On Sanctuary State Bill
Governor Charlie Baker can pander with the best of them and on Monday "The Guv" ignited a firestorm of criticism and concern when he indicated he might be persuaded to back a bill to declare Massachusetts a sanctuary state.
Baker, in announcing the appointment of a 27 member Latino Advisory Commission told reporters, it would be a "hard sell" to get him to throw his support behind the Safe Communities Act but said it would not be the first time he changed his mind on an issue:
"I'm an open-minded guy. I've been known to change my mind about things before."
The Safe Communities Act would prohibit state and local police from asking about a person's immigration status or arresting someone solely because of their immigration status. It would also ban police from holding immigrants on a federal detainer if they had no other cause to do so.
Up until now Baker has been consistent in his opposition to The Safe Communities Act, saying he gets "very nervous" about the idea of taking away the ability for local officials to make decisions on law enforcement for their own communities.
In an attempt to clear the confusion and ease the concerns of opponents of the sanctuary state legislation, Baker spokesperson Lizzy Guyton on Tuesday released the following statement:
“Governor Baker opposes making the Commonwealth a sanctuary state and opposes the ‘Safe Communities Act’ that would prohibit law enforcement from enforcing bipartisan policies that have been in place for 10 years and prevented violent and dangerous convicted criminals from being released back onto our streets”
Guyton says Baker would resist policies that would reduce federal funding to sanctuary cities and sates:
“The governor believes the federal government should work toward bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform and will oppose any attempts to cut off federal funding from Massachusetts.”
Governor Baker is ranked as the nation's most popular governor. He may even fare well with some in Massachusetts. But, for the base that elected Baker his position on issues such as transgender bathroom rights and gun ownership leave them scratching their heads. The governor has shown little in the way of fiscal management and the Massachusetts economy is now ranked 48th overall out of 50 states.
It seems to me that either Baker was trying to please his audience of mainly immigrants on Monday when he suggested he might waffle on the sanctuary state issue or he was testing the waters as he could face a formidable challenge from ultra-liberal Setti Warren in next year's election.
Those of us who voted for Baker expected a much stronger leader on the issues we hold near. What we got was just another progressive hiding behind a boyish face and "oh, gosh' persona.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
The State House News Service and The Boston Herald provided source material for this opinion piece.