BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Menino is threatening to end the city of Boston’s participation in a federal illegal immigration crackdown program called Secure Communities.
The program requires police to run a fingerprint check through an immigration base for anyone arrested for a crime. If the person turns out to be an illegal immigrant, they face deportation.
The mayor says he will pull the Boston’s participation unless it’s specified that the program only deports those arrested for major crimes.
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.
“I don’t want my city to be a city where if you’re an immigrant, you’re afraid to be deported to another country for simple acts,” said Mayor Menino. “This is supposed to be on issues like homicides, major crimes, and they were taking this too far. A guy stole a car, they do the finger prints to watch him and have the person deported. That’s not the Boston I want. I want Boston to be a city that welcomes immigrants.”
On Monday, Police Commissioner Ed Davis headed to Washington, DC to deliver the message to the federal government.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens reports
“We have a very strong message… and hope for immediate change,” Davis told WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens.
As it stands under the program, a person arrested for a minor crime can be deported.
The mayor and police commissioner both say the program has caused a breakdown of relations between residents and police in immigrant communities.
“We need to be a police department that’s a full-service department. We can’t have a segment of the community afraid to call us,” said Davis.
OFFICIALS RESPOND TO MAYOR MENINO’S DECISION
Chuck Jackson, a Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), released a statement on behalf of the ICE:
“ICE will respond directly to any correspondence from Massachusetts officials.”
“As part of the Obama administration’s continued commitment to smart, effective immigration enforcement, ICE last month announced key improvements to the Secure Communities program, including the creation of a new advisory committee that will advise the Director of ICE on ways to improve Secure Communities, including making recommendations on how to best focus on individuals who pose a true public safety or national security threat. The committee’s first report will be delivered to the Director within 45 days of its creation and will consider whether and how to implement policies in cases of individuals charged with, but not convicted of, minor traffic offenses who have no other criminal history or egregious immigration violations. ICE seeks to enforce our nation’s immigration law in a smart and effective manner that best promotes public safety, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system. This includes the identification and removal of criminals and individuals who game the immigration system, illegally re-enter the country after being removed – a federal felony, and immigration fugitives.”
Meanwhile, officials with the Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform (MCIR) released their own statement about Mayor Menino’s decision:
“It’s disappointing that the Mayor ignores both the safety of the city’s residents and the nation’s laws by ending involvement in ‘Secure Communities’. After a July 4th weekend in Boston marked by a rise in murders and assaults primarily in neighborhoods where many immigrants, both legal and illegal, live it’s clear that more law enforcement, not less, is needed to ensure public safety.
By taking this action the mayor is more responsive to special interest open border groups than in doing what is best for the City of Boston.”
EVERETT TEEN IMPACTED BY SECURE COMMUNITIES PROGRAM
An 18-year-0ld girl from Everett has seen first hand the impact of Secure Communities program.
Lizandra DeMoura has lived in the United States since she was 5 years old. She didn’t know she was an illegal immigrant until she was in high school, and wanted to get her driver’s license. That’s when her mother told her she was living here illegally.
Now, Lizandra is facing deportation back to Brazil after being caught running through a stop sign in Boston.
In most communities, she would have been arrested and released. But because she was caught in Boston, which is part of the Federal Secure Communities Program, Lizandra’s fingerprints were sent to Immigration officials. She was detained overnight into Monday.
“I stayed overnight in jail. Immigration took me, they put a bunch of chains on by body,” she says.
Lizandra believes the federal program should focus on illegal immigrants who are dangerous to the community. She says she just wishes her parents had brought her here legally.
She is afraid of being forced to move back to Brazil.
“I don’t even know how to speak Portugese. I don’t know anything about Brazil. I’m just very terrified,” Lizandra says.
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson contributed to this report.