Pass the Safe Communities Act [OPINION]
Recently, a local progressive cause made national headlines when Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson's agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were terminated by the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited “ample evidence that the Detention Center’s treatment of detained individuals and the conditions of detention are unacceptable.” Following the termination of his contracts, Sheriff Hodgson has repeatedly warned that this decision by President Biden's DHS is a step toward ending ICE agreements with county sheriff's offices nationwide.
For many, Hodgson's warning is a policy goal. The probe into the Bristol County Sheriff's Office began with a May 1, 2020 confrontation that left many detainees injured was investigated by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Following the investigation, AG Healey issued a scathing report accusing the Sheriff of using excessive force those who were detained. Concurrently, a federal class action lawsuit against the BCSO alleging a total lack safeguards against COVID-19 was settled.
Immigration reform advocates argue that the mistreatment of ICE detainees is not unique Bristol County, and that deputizing sheriff's departments emboldens them to enforce immigration policies that they neither have the capacity or interest in carrying out humanely. As it stands, Massachusetts is the only state in New England that has the controversial 287(g) agreements between county sheriff's and DHS. Activists, advocacy groups, and lawmakers on Beacon Hill such as Rep. Tony Cabral are working to change and implement other needed immigration reforms with the Safe Communities Act.
Recently, I was joined on-air by Daniel Pereira, of MIRA, to discuss the reforms in the Safe Communities Act and why the bill's passage is so critically important. MIRA stands for Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy, and they have been at the forefront of reforming immigration policy in the Commonwealth for over 30 years. You can listen to the full conversation here:
Marcus Ferro is the host of The Marcus Ferro Show airing Saturdays on 1420 WBSM from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.