By Bob Katzen
The state budget approved by the House and Senate last week does not include a Senate-approved plan that would prohibit police and other law enforcement from asking people about their immigration status. Other provisions that were in the Senate budget but not in the House version include ending the practice that deputizes state and local law enforcement as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents; banning state resources from being used to create a registry based on ethnicity, religion, country of origin and other criteria; and requiring that immigrants be notified of their due-process rights.
The conference committee that hammered out the compromise version of the budget that was approved last week decided not to include the Senate provision in the final version.
Reaction from both sides was swift. “By refusing to adopt even the most basic legal protections for immigrants, the Legislature abdicated its moral leadership and failed thousands of its constituents,” said Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) praised the action. “Good news on the state budget front,” he tweeted. “We finally have a budget coming to the floor today and it does not contain language making Massachusetts a sanctuary state.”
“Because of this failure of leadership, immigrant survivors of domestic violence and other victims of crime may not come forward to law enforcement when they need help,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. “Now, people living in Massachusetts will not be guaranteed their due process and informed about their rights when faced with a potential major deprivation of liberty, like being separated from family and facing deportation. Now, President Trump’s mass deportation agenda can continue here in Massachusetts. This is disgraceful. Period.”
Good news!” tweeted Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman). “The state budget released doesn’t contain sanctuary state language. Great victory for public safety!”
“It’s important to be clear: there’s nothing in state law that precludes municipalities from adopting their own policies regarding their interactions with ICE,” said House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “Where consensus eluded us was to force municipalities into a statewide policy. Different communities have different approaches. I wholly anticipate the House will spend the next few months evaluating what can be done on a state level.”
LEAD IN SCHOOL WATER (S 2595) – The Senate approved and sent to the House legislation to establish a commission to study the prevalence and remediation of lead in school drinking water at all private and public schools and center-based child care facilities in the commonwealth.
“It is essential that schools throughout the commonwealth provide a safe environment for children to learn and grow without the threat of lead poisoning,” said Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem), one of the sponsors of the bill.
Lovely noted that almost half of the school water tests conducted in the Bay State found some level of lead in the water. She said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Environmental Protection, there is no safe level of lead exposure. She noted that many of the schools’ water service lines are still made of lead, which has been found to leach lead into school water through the pipes, plumbing and water fountains.