Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has become the latest state official to decide not to sign his state up for the Secure Communities program after months of stalling on the decision.
In a letter written by Massachusetts Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan on behalf of Gov. Patrick, Heffernan wrote that the Secure Communities program does not meets its objectives of targeting serious criminals, stating that only 1 in 4 of those deported in Boston’s pilot participation of the program were convicted of a serious crime. More than half of those deported were identified as non-criminal, she said.
“The Governor and I are dubious of the Commonwealth taking on the federal role of immigration enforcement,” Heffernan wrote. “We are even more skeptical of the potential impact that Secure Communities could have on the residents of the Commonwealth.”
The governor’s decision comes after a series of public meetings were held by the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to compile concerns that residents had with the program.
Among those concerns Heffernan offered included the deterioration of police-community relations, affect on victims of violence, and racial profiling.
Heffernan also commented on the Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s conflicting mandatory versus voluntary message over the last year.
“We are reluctant to participate if the program is mandatory and unwilling to participate if it is voluntary,” she wrote.
Now the state follows in the path of New York, Illinois, and Washington DC which has either suspended the program or opted out of the program.
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York would suspend the program
“There are concerns about the implementation of [Secure Communities] as well as its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York,” Cuomo said in a press release. “As a result, New York is suspending its participation in the program.”