Boston Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh wants to put a halt to the federal mandate requiring police to share fingerprints with immigration officials.
Walsh spoke Tuesday at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy's annual Thanksgiving luncheon at the State House.
Walsh told the gathering, “If we can get around it, I won’t (implement it).”
He added he strongly favors the Trust Act, a bill before the state Legislature that would weaken the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program by limiting the information police can give to federal authorities about illegal immigrants.
“There’s another act that softens it. It’s not about getting around it. It’s about ... people that get pulled over. I don’t think that necessarily we have to bring in Immigration for that,” said Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants.
“One of every four people living in Boston is an immigrant,” Walsh told a group of several hundred immigrants. “It’s very important for us to move the immigration agenda forward ... so people can feel safe and not worry.”
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a longtime defender of the policy, disagrees with the mayor-elect.
"I can’t believe any elected official who is in charge of keeping neighborhoods safe would not want law enforcement to have every available tool to get these criminal illegal aliens off our streets and out of our country,” said Hodgson.
“That’s ill-advised. I have to believe the mayor-elect is not completely knowledgeable,” he added.
The Boston Herald also reports that Boston police began participating in a Secure Communities pilot program in 2006, two years before its official launch.
Former Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis defended the program in 2010 as a “commonsense” approach. However, one year later, Davis delivered a letter from Mayor Thomas M. Menino to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials in which the Merino said the program needed to be dramatically changed or “scrapped” because it was “diminishing trust” between the immigrant community and the police force.