Governor Charlie Baker is proposing a bill that would allow state and local police to honor certain detention requests from federal immigration authorities. Baker is aiming to fill a legal gap pointed out by the state's highest court.
Last week the court ruled in a case concerning the detention of an immigrant with a criminal record who was in the country illegally.
The justices ruled that current Massachusetts law did not allow local law enforcement to hold the immigrant solely on a request from federal authorities.
WGBH Legal Analyst and Northeastern professor Daniel Medwed says Baker's bill is a compromise, as many of his proposals are.
"It is an effort to retain states’ rights” Medwed says, “but also, to some extent, show respect for federal immigration authorities by authorizing local law enforcement to respect federal immigration detainers in very specific egregious circumstances."
Medwed says it’s the specificity of those circumstances that are important in shaping a compromise.
"This proposed legislation would only authorize officers to detain someone in very specific situations,” Medwed says, “where the person is suspected of terrorism, or has past serious criminal offenses on his or her record."
The head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts calls Baker's proposal "constitutionally suspect" and says the bill would let police hold people without due process.