"Massachusetts Doesn't Need to Be Complicit."

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 

Chairman Eldridge, Chairwoman Cronin, and Members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary: 

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I serve as the chair of the Issues Committee of Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots advocacy group focused on advancing progressive policy here in Massachusetts. We are committed to fighting for a sensible and human-focused immigration system, wherein all historically marginalized communities are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect.

The current immigration system is as far from that as possible. Although our federal immigration system worked against public safety and community stability before January 2017, the current presidential administration has chosen to double down on all of the worst elements of our immigration system, in betrayal of the values that many hold dear and that our country pretends to have. 

Massachusetts does not need to be complicit in this. 

Progressive Massachusetts would like to go on record in support of H.1368, An act relative to enforcing federal law, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Cabral. This bill would prohibit county sheriffs and the Department of Corrections from using state or local funds for federal immigration activities carried out under so-called 287(g) agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

These agreements deputize state and county personnel as federal immigration agents, at state expense. Minimally-trained personnel scour local jails to identify people they believe are subject to removal, and place them in ICE custody--a practice that is inherently discriminatory. 

Entangling local law enforcement with ICE, moreover, makes immigrants less likely to seek help in cases of domestic violence and less likely to report crimes, reducing public safety. The community instability that results from a deportation agenda itself also undermines public safety. 

Massachusetts is faced with many crises that demand our resources. We should not be diverting our public resources away from the task of building a humane commonwealth for all to the inhumane work of ICE. 



Jonathan Cohn

Chair, Issues Committee

Progressive Massachusetts 

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