Limiting Cambridge's Participation in the Secure Communities Program

On Monday, June 2, the Cambridge City Council will vote on a policy order to join the TRUST Act movement and limit the city's participation in Secure Communities, an opaque federal program that has led to the deportation of people who have never committed a crime.

The policy order was drafted by Cambridge City Councillor Dennis Carlone and is being co-sponsored by Cambridge Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan and Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung.

Drawing on Cambridge's tradition of being a Sanctuary City, the order directs the City Manager, "to work with the Police Commissioner to ensure that only in cases where immigration agents have a criminal warrant, or Cambridge officials have a legitimate law enforcement purpose not related to immigration, will Cambridge Police comply with federal ICE detainer requests to hold persons solely for immigration purposes."

The policy will help ensure that Cambridge law enforcement officials are empowered to exercise their own discretion while seeking to limit the impact of this flawed federal program.

Presently, when a person is arrested in any city, including Cambridge, the standard booking procedure involves sending the arrestee's fingerprints and identifying information to the FBI. Under Secure Communities, that information is also shared with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). ICE may then issue a detainer request, asking the city to hold the person for up to 48 hours after posting bail or being ordered released by the courts.

While the data-sharing portion of Secure Communities is obligatory on all cities and states, localities still have the discretion to limit cooperation with certain detainer requests. Despite its status as a Sanctuary City, the City of Cambridge does not have a policy that explicitly limits cooperation with ICE detainer requests.

Last week, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone announced that he was taking action to join with a growing list of municipalities that have modified their policies to limit compliance with ICE detainer requests, and earlier this month, Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Hass was quoted in a Huffington Post report that highlighted the confusion over the Department of Homeland Security's implementation of the program.

Members of the public wishing to testify on this matter are invited to participate in public comment at 5:30 pm on Monday, June 2. To sign up, call the city council office at (617) 349-4280 between 9 am and 3 pm on Monday, or just show up at City Hall and add your name to the list prior to 6 pm. Be sure to note that you wish to speak on Order #1. Each speaker will be given up to three minutes to testify. Alternatively, you may email all nine members of the council via council@cambridgema.gov

Councillor Carlone wishes to thank Laura Rotolo, staff counsel and community advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, for her support in the preparation of this policy order. The full text of the order is posted below...

  O-1
  IN CITY COUNCIL
 
  June 2, 2014
 
COUNCILLOR CARLONE
VICE MAYOR BENZAN
COUNCILLOR CHEUNG
 
WHEREAS:

The City of Cambridge, like the United States itself, has been enriched and built by generations of immigrants; and

    
WHEREAS:

The City of Cambridge has a proud history as a Sanctuary City, as declared on April 8, 1985, when large numbers of refugees fleeing the war in El Salvador arrived in Cambridge and were threatened with deportation; and

    
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge reaffirmed its status as a Sanctuary City on May 8, 2006, and formally adopted the language "undocumented" when referring to those who do not have federally recognized resident status and "immigrant" to refer to those who have migrated to the US from another country; and
     
WHEREAS: The federal Secure Communities program is currently being used to identify undocumented immigrants in the custody of local agencies; and
    
WHEREAS: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security; ICE issues "detainer requests" pursuant to Title 8 U.SC. Section 1226, and Title 8 U.S.C. Section 1357(d), which asks local authorities to hold individuals who have been ordered released from custody for up to 48 hours (after they have been ordered released), so that they can be taken into federal custody; and
    
WHEREAS: There is no legal authority upon which the federal government may compel an expenditure of City resources to comply with an ICE detainer request; and
   

WHEREAS:

The Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act, versions of which are pending before state and federal legislatures, aims to keep immigrants who pose no risk to society safe in their communities and with their families while also promoting trust between the immigrant community and local law enforcement; and
   

WHEREAS:

According to the Massachusetts TRUST Act Coalition, which includes State Senator Jamie Eldridge and former State Representative Carl Sciortino, ICE issued more than 5,000 detainers in Massachusetts from 2008 through 2011, and more than 75% of these detainers were placed on individuals who had no criminal conviction or history; several were issued on children under the age of eighteen; and

    
WHEREAS: In April, 2014, a federal judge ruled that it is a violation of constitutional rights to hold an individual for immigration authorities without probable cause; and
   
WHEREAS: As a result of this ruling, cities and counties nationwide are beginning to revise their policies regarding voluntary cooperation with ICE detainer requests; now therefore be it
   
ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Police Commissioner to ensure that only in cases where immigration agents have a criminal warrant, or Cambridge officials have a legitimate law enforcement purpose not related to immigration, will Cambridge Police comply with federal ICE detainer requests to hold persons solely for immigration purposes; and be it further

   
ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the council on this matter; and be it further

   
ORDERED: That the City Council does hereby go on record in joining the national TRUST Act movement to no longer hold immigrants in detention for the sole purpose of deportation; and be it further
   
ORDERED: That the City Council does hereby go on record in supporting the Massachusetts TRUST Act bill currently before the state legislature; and be it further
   
ORDERED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to the Cambridge state legislative and Congressional legislative delegations.

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