BOSTON (AP) — Boston lawmakers imposed new restrictions Wednesday on city police in their work on federal immigration matters.
The City Council approved amendments to Boston’s Trust Act, which limits the role city officials play in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.
Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh said the amendments, which his office developed along with City Councilor Josh Zakim, are meant to reassure residents that Boston police remain focused on public safety, not civil immigration enforcement.
The changes come amid revelations that Boston police have been closely coordinating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for years despite the 5-year-old Trust Act.
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Boston office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the changes should go further.
“While the updated legislation limits collaboration between Boston police and federal immigration enforcement, it does not end it, and leaves room for Boston police officers to help ICE continue to tear apart families,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU’s Massachusetts chapter.
Walsh and Zakim moved to update the ordinance earlier this year following revelations that Boston police worked with ICE to apprehend a construction worker living in the country illegally after he’d sought compensation from his employer following a workplace injury.
Documents obtained by the ACLU also show that a Boston police officer worked for years as the department’s designated liaison to ICE. He’s since been removed from that role.
The amendments approved Wednesday specifically prohibit officers from sharing information with the division of ICE focused on civil enforcement matters.
But it makes clear the department can continue to work with the agency’s Homeland Security Investigations division on significant public safety issues, such as combating human trafficking, child exploitation, drug and weapons trafficking, and cybercrime.
It also requires the department to train officers on the new requirements and issue an annual report on the number of civil immigration detainer requests the city receives from ICE, how many people were transferred into ICE custody and why.
When approved in 2014, the Trust Act stated that Boston officials could not detain or transfer someone to federal authorities solely because of a civil immigration detainer request or administrative warrant.
Walsh’s office says ICE requested 175 civil detainers from Boston Police in 2017 and 2018. Those that posted bail were not transferred to ICE custody, while those that did not were transported to the court for arraignment, moving out of Boston police authority, his office said.
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)