Starting this week, it will no longer be a crime to be “undocumented” in Somerville, according to Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, who will sign an unprecedented executive order today barring Somerville police from holding undocumented residents in jail simply for immigration violations.
The order, which makes the Somerville the first city in the state to join the National Trust Act movement, will implement on the city level the key changes promoted by the Massachusetts TRUST Act bill currently before the State legislature.
With Mayor Curtatone’s executive order, only in cases where immigration agents have a criminal warrant, or Somerville officials have a legitimate law enforcement purpose not related to immigration, will Somerville Police comply with federal ICE detainer requests to hold persons solely for immigration purposes. It is reported that other communities may quickly follow suit.
Curtatone claims the federal Secure Communities program is a failure, saying that more than half of those deported in Massachusetts in the last two years had no convictions, so the practice is tearing families apart and discouraging undocumented immigrants from cooperating with police and reporting crimes
One harsh critic, Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, called the Somerville policy “foolish and reckless” and predicted a new wave of horrible crimes, like the dragging-death of 23-year-old Matthew Denice, hit and killed by drunken-driving illegal immigrant Nicolas Dutan Guaman, who was convicted and sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison this week.
El Mundo Boston will have full coverage on this matter as it develops.