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City Council votes to block Boston Police from detaining immigrants


Councilor Josh Zakim’s ordinance to bar police from detaining immigrants solely based on suspicions that they’ve violated immigration laws. Currently, the Boston Police comply with the Obama Administration’s so-called Secure Communities Act, through which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issues detainer orders — requests that the police hold suspects for their agents to pick them up.

While the program was ostensibly aimed at deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records, 54 percent of those ICE agents have detained from Boston had no criminal record.

Zakim argued the detentions violated people’s rights.

“We should not be complicit in violating people’s due process,” he argued.

Mayor Martin Walsh recently signaled that the Boston Police would no longer comply with the detention orders, which some argue violate immigrants’ rights. Zakim’s ordinance would the city’s break with the policy official.

Other councilors said the detention policy deters undocumented immigrants from turning to the police when they’re the victims of violent crimes.

“We have a lot of undocumented residents in East Boston,” said Councilor Sal LaMattina. “The stories I hear are real horror stories — women being sexually assaulted, raped. And they won’t report it because they’re afraid of being deported.”

“It’s about time Boston takes a leadership role on this issue,” said Councilor Tito Jackson. “The police are here to protect and serve, and I would submit they have to protect and serve everyone — not just citizens.”

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