Dorchester resident and recently sworn-in State Representative for the 5th Suffolk District (Dorchester-Roxbury), Liz Miranda, has “taken a leap” in her first weeks as elected official to filed a bill for a renewed “Safe Communities Act” legislation in Massachusetts.
Officialy titled “An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents,” the bill was presented at the State House (bill HD.1520) by Miranda and the 12th Middlesex State Representative Ruth Balser, and at the State Senate (bill SD.926) by Middlesex and Worcester State Senator James Eldridge on January 16th, 2019.
The key features of the “Safe Communities Act,” according to the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy coalition are: 1) No questions about immigration status: Bars law enforcement and court personnel from asking people about their status unless required by law. 2) Protects due process: Before Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) questions someone in local custody, requires police to obtain their consent using a form that explains their right to decline an interview or have their own attorney present. 3) Limits notifications to ICE: Bars police, court officers and jail officials from notifying ICE that someone is about to be released. 4) No more 287(g) agreements: Ends contracts with ICE that allow state and county personnel to act as federal immigration agents, at state taxpayers’ expense. 5) Provides crucial training and accountability: Requires law enforcement agencies to train their personnel about this law, and if there is an alleged violation, people can file a complaint with the relevant agency or the Attorney General.
The bill was co-sponsored by 86 legislators of the Massachusetts General Court (State House and State Senate together), including Dorchester’s State Representatives Daniel Cullinane, Daniel Hunt and Russel Holmes, and Dorchester’s State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz.
According to the regular procedures, the bill filed will be followed by a long way of hearings, public testimonies, debates, and amendments before going to the Governor’s Office to become a law.