BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts State Police will soon begin checking the immigration status of everybody they arrest.

The state agreed Friday to sign onto the federal Secure Communities Program which is designed to help detect illegal immigrants, by involving police in the process. It allows arrestees’ fingerprint information to be checked against FBI criminal history records and biometrics-based immigration records kept by the Department of Homeland Security.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

It has drawn fire from some immigrant advocacy groups who say the program discourages legal and illegal immigrants from cooperating with police.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition said her group agrees with the intent of the program, to arrest criminals but it needs at least a couple of years to be improved because 75 percent to 78 percent of those being deported are non-criminals. 

“The fact that the State of Massachusetts is rushing to sign the memorandum of understanding, it’s shocking to us because the implementation of the program has huge, huge problems,” said Millona.

WBZ News Radio’s Lana Jones talks with immigration advocates about the change.

The agreement marks a change for the Patrick administration, which in the past opposed having State Police involved in enforcing immigration laws.

Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan said they state did not sign on sooner because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was sending mixed signals regarding the program.

“It has become clear now that this program is going to be mandatory for all communities in the near future. With that knowledge we will sign the MOU with ICE,” Heffernan said in a written statement. “We will also work closely with all communities to monitor the implementation and share with federal officials any concerns that are raised.”

The Boston Police Department already participates in Secure Communities.

Since ICE began the program in October 2008, federal officials say immigration officers have deported more than 50,600 immigrants convicted of various crimes.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (23)
  1. John Joseph Grimes says:

    Why wouldn’t they be foing that already? There are thousands of people in this state who are driving unregistered, uninsured vehicles without benefit of a driver’s license, How can anyone of sound mind believe that checking anyone’s status is a problem. If you happen to be involved in an accident with these drivers, take a guess at just who is going to get the shaft.

  2. come on says:

    WHY have they been not doing this all along??? I thought after 911 things were different……well I guess not.

  3. Ellen says:

    I also want to know why they haven’t been doing this all along, and lets get one thing clear here, there’s a big difference between an illegal immigrant and a legal immigrant. A big difference.

  4. Scooby says:

    The caption says Mass State Police will now check….what about local and city Police…I’m sure they won’t be happy for that extra paperwork…but maybe the local and city don’t have to check at all?????

  5. DStein says:

    It’s about time!! Looks like Deval Patrick realized this was going to become mandatory anyway. Does this mean the Feds are actually going to put a stop to sanctuary cities? I hope so. Places like Cambridge, Brookline, Framingham and Lawrence are going to be miffed about this. Too bad. Instead of obstructing the law, how about these communities help enforce it for a change.

  6. Denise says:

    Well many of them that want a free ride home for the holidays – so they’ll be looking to get caught doing something minor! then after the holidays they’ll be back! Why are the rights of the illegal immigrants and law breakers outweight the protection the laws are suppose to provide to the legal US Citizens?

  7. fffefefefef says:

    Denise – if you werent such a biggot maybe then you would feel differentkly

  8. ffefefefe says:

    What will this accomplish, great tehy check, then what?? DEpost them, or turn them over to ICE – yeah right, they will give them a ride to the state college for free in-state tuition before they will get deported

  9. kasser says:

    Interesting. Wasn’t this what Arizona wanted to do more or less but Obama shut down ? oh wait, Obama is not buddy buddy with Arizona’s Governor as much as he is with Patrick.

    This country will fail if the Federal Government is neglecting, or downright refusing, to enforce federal laws. Immigration Laws are Federal Laws and needs enforcing. If DC won’t, let the states, who actually deal with the problems, do

  10. Buzz says:

    Please check the following businesses for illegals: Fast food anything, Dunkin Donuts, and any landscaping company. Free up jobs for those of us here who have a legal status.

  11. jean says:

    It’s about time. This should have happened years ago. The next step is to rid these people from our public housing projects and any welfare assistance they are receiving. Then, once we identify them we deport them quickly and expeditiously.
    Finally, we fine the bejesus out of EVERY company that is employing them. A hotline to report companies hiring illegals should be set up to report these companies.

  12. Joe says:

    I too found it disturbing that Immigration Checks have not been taking place, especially since 911.

  13. cynic says:

    Thats really going to solve a lot……Have the State Police join the Hysteria.

  14. cynic says:

    Do you have any Idea how many hundreds of Spanish looking families are stopped and harrassed on I-95 in Attleboro before one Car is found to have drugs in it?

  15. jack1 says:

    IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. mark says:

    It’s a pretty good start. We to find them prosecute them and deport them. If they are caught her twice throw them in jail. Instead of 3 hots and a cot and should be 1 cold and let them sleep in the mold!! Jail is too good of a place for them.

    1. cynic says:

      Mark…and what of those that are here legally? Is that the price they will be expected to pay for having a Spanish face? You may be right though…. If we kill them all we certainly would get the Guilty.

      1. mark says:

        legally is fine so is having a spanish face

  17. mark says:

    If you a here legally you are not breaking the law. It is sad but as in most cases a few bad apples spoil it for everyone else. This is not about racism this is about obeying the law.. a law that none are above. I have many good friends that are Spanish. They are great people. If they were arrested ( which they will not because they are good law obeying people) what would a simple back ground check hurt.

  18. David P. McConnell says:

    ” 75 percent to 78 percent of those being deported are non-criminals.”

    Am I the only one here who see’s a problem with this statement? If they are here ILLEGALLY hence illegal immigrants, doesn’t that make them criminal already? Just what is the definition of illegal? So by skirting around the process of becoming a citizen of the U.S. and disregarding the law pertaining to citizenship, or being here in this country, not paying taxes like the rest of the populace. ….YOU are still a non-criminal? If that’s the case then I denounce my citizenship and I will no longer pay taxes.

  19. richard g king says:


  20. richard g king says:

    the mexicans are a bunch of mooches and now the muslems, who want to kill us are comming???

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