Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has reversed the previous administration's policy barring state police from detaining immigrants at the request of federal immigration officials.
The policy was put in place while Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick was in office. His Republican successor announced the change Thursday.
"We don't do that in Boston," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in opposition to Baker's announcement. "What we do in Boston is, you know when the police make a traffic stop, if there's an immigrant, we don't question his legal status here in this country."
The Priority Enforcement Program is the new version of Secure Communities that was criticized for detaining non-violent immigrants with no criminal records.
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"As before, the state police will not be enforcing federal immigration law nor will they inquire about immigration status," Baker said in defense of the new policy. "They will now be able to assist in detaining for our federal partners individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety or national security."
In an afternoon conference call, State Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson said they are disappointed and disturbed at Baker's actions, especially at a time when Donald Trump is spewing an anti-immigration message.
"It is reckless for Mr. Eldridge and Mr. Jackson to advocate for allowing suspected terrorists and convicted domestic abusers to walk out of state police custody when the Obama administration has requested they be taken off the streets because they are a public safety threat," said Massachusetts Republican Party Chair Kirsten Hughes.
Eldridge says Baker's move indicates he is looking to reconnect with his conservative base by coming out hard against immigration days after agreeing to sign a transgender anti-discrimination bill that passed Wednesday in the House of Representatives.