The Massachusetts Legislature is inching closer to making the Commonwealth a sanctuary for illegal aliens. Lawmakers could move to finalize the "Safe Communities Act" before breaking for the summer recess at the end of the month.

The legislation posts a giant welcome sign at the state's borders for those who have entered the country illegally. And like the police reform legislation making its way through the halls of the State House on Beacon Hill, it would also diminish the authority of law enforcement.

The legislation would prevent police officers and court officials from inquiring about someone's immigration status. They would not be able to notify ICE about an illegal alien's impending release from police custody unless the individual was completing a criminal sentence. The bill identifies those functions as the sole responsibility of an immigration officer.

Under the proposed law, an individual would have to consent in writing to being questioned by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

The legislation was reported out of committee this week. The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition praised lawmakers for advancing the bill. Opponents say the bill protects those who have made their way to Massachusetts after crossing illegally into the United States.

Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson opposes the legislation. Hodgson told the State House News Service in January: "When you begin to break apart our ability to communicate with our partners, we suddenly are not able to get the information that we otherwise could have to keep somebody from either being released out of jail or from having somebody in the community not be arrested that then is going to go out and victimize more people."

Allowing illegal aliens to hide out in Massachusetts violates federal law. Sanctuary cities and states provide shelter and protection to those who have little regard for those laws. It also places those who reside here legally in danger.

The "Safe Communities Act" is wrong for Massachusetts and wrong for America.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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