By Bob Katzen

The House 10-145 rejected an amendment that would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to arrest and hold a person without a warrant if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued an immigration detainer on that person. The amendment was proposed in response to a July 2017 ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) that ruled local law enforcement could not assist federal immigration agents in enforcing federal civil enforcement immigration detainers.

“The amendment allows local enforcement to assist federal immigration agents to detain people with an outstanding civil federal immigration detainer,” said sponsor Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover). “It protects the citizens of the commonwealth. Without this law, Massachusetts is a sanctuary state.”

“Let the federal government do what the federal government is charged with,” said Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem) the former Salem police chief. “Let the local police be effective and efficient in enforcing the local laws.”

Other representatives said they support the bill but voted against it because it also included a section that changes the definition of “probable cause.”

“The language in this amendment would change the ‘probable cause’ standard and allow it to be based upon an individual officer’s personal belief,” said Rep. Tim Whelan (R-Brewster). “This is a radical change to a constitutionally accepted standard held in our nation since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.”

The current definition of probable cause is “facts discovered through logical inquiry that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that an accused person has committed a crime.”

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