For Immediate Release - January 11, 2007


New Federal-State Policy to Bolster Public Safety Across the Commonwealth

BOSTON- Thursday, January 11, 2007 -Governor Deval Patrick today rescinded a policy established by former Governor Mitt Romney that would have allowed Massachusetts State Police Troopers to detain illegal immigrants. Governor Patrick rejected the policy, saying that the time and effort of state police troopers are better spent working with local communities to combat violence, drug abuse, and gun trafficking.

Also today, Governor Patrick directed Public Safety Secretary Kevin M. Burke to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement between the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that will allow specially-trained corrections officers in two state detention facilities to perform limited immigration law enforcement functions, including initiating deportment proceedings against convicted criminal illegal immigrants.

"With all that the State Police have to do to enforce the laws of this Commonwealth, I do not believe that it is either practical or wise to ask them to enforce Federal laws as well. That is the job of the Federal government, and it should be done by the Federal government," said Governor Patrick. "At the same time, I do believe that convicted criminals housed in our prisons who have violated immigration laws should be turned over to Federal authorities for appropriate handling, including deportation. Today's MOU directs the correctional authorities to do just that."

"I applaud Governor Patrick's decision to terminate the current agreement," said Secretary Burke. "Our State Police personnel need to remain focused on their primary mission of ensuring the public's safety and the agreement, as written would likely have diminished their capacity to do so."

Select corrections officers at MCI Concord and MCI Framingham will receive four weeks of special training from ICE officials that will include immigration law, the scope of their immigration officer authority, civil rights law, and federal and international rules regarding the treatment of foreign-born prisoners. These highly qualified officers and their work will be monitored by state and federal officials.

As part of the agreement, the administration will establish an educational outreach campaign for communities across the Commonwealth that will allow residents to understand how the new program will work so that families of those inmates who might be affected by this agreement have a full understanding of their rights and responsibilities.

Similar agreements have been signed with state corrections departments in California, Florida and Arizona, where the program has led to a significant cost savings.


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