Advocates for sanctuary cities in Massachusetts may soon make a push for a controversial policy ‒ the non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities by local police to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation ‒ to be extended throughout the state, according to the Eagle Tribune newspaper.
At least a couple of dozen Massachusetts lawmakers have given their backing to a proposal that would make the commonwealth a haven for undocumented immigrants who fear interacting with local law enforcement officials in case of deportation. Immigrants’ rights groups are also lending their support to the proposal; however, there is bipartisan opposition, with such cities having emerged as a key topic in the upcoming 2016 presidential elections. A number of Republican candidates have accused sanctuary cities of increasing crime rates and contributing to the increasing number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, now believed to be more than 11 million.
Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Lawrence, Northampton and Somerville are the six communities in Massachusetts that have told their local police forces not to keep undocumented immigrants in detention for the purpose of deporting them unless the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency produces a warrant.
The statewide proposal has no support from the Republican Party and even a number of Democrats are wary of the idea, fearing that both state and national security could be jeopardized by the move. Democrat representative Linda Campbell says the the proposal is “clearly an attempt to undermine federal law” and “would set a dangerous precedent”.