Charlie Baker Reverses Deval Patrick Policy on Illegal Immigration

Marty Walsh said Boston cops won't follow the policy change.

Photo by Isabel Leon/Mayor's Office

Photo by Isabel Leon/Mayor’s Office

Gov. Charlie Baker is making a major change to an illegal immigration policy instituted by Deval Patrick.

According to the Boston Herald, the Baker administration has reversed a policy that prevented state police from detaining undocumented immigrants at the request of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Officials say the change, which went into effect on Thursday, is focused on combating dangerous criminals who have crossed the border illegally.

“This was about working collaboratively,” Baker told the Herald, adding, “if there were people who had engaged in criminal activity, that the connectivity between the state and the feds would be there to ensure that we didn’t miss opportunities to remove them.”

Under the old policy, which Patrick enacted as governor in 2014, state police were prohibited from asking individuals about their immigration status unless it was related to a criminal inquiry. Law enforcement was also told to stop honoring ICE requests to detain undocumented immigrants who are arrested. Patrick created the policy in response to concerns that “ICE was not focusing on people with extensive criminal histories, but instead targeting otherwise law-abiding people,” according to the Globe.

Baker’s alteration to the policy still won’t allow state police to ask people about their immigration status, but it will allow the holding of arrested suspects at the request of the ICE for up to 48 hours. Per the Globe, the Baker administration said in a statement that “The new policy will not allow troopers to arrest someone or take them into custody only on immigration issues, but they will be allowed to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement directly to learn whether ICE considers the person a priority target.”

The criteria for detaining someone, under Obama administration guidelines, is meant to target terrorist suspects and illegal immigrants with past convictions for felonies, multiple misdemeanors, or gang-related crimes.

Mayor Marty Walsh told the Herald on Thursday that the shift in policy won’t have an effect on how Boston cops interact with undocumented immigrants.

While the mayor said that local law enforcement would contact ICE officials if a suspect was involved in a serious crime, they wouldn’t detain people over minor violations.

“I don’t view police officers as immigration officials — they have their own enforcement arm and they are the ones who should be enforcing it,” Walsh said.