Immigration-related arrests down in New England

New England is seeing the lowest number of immigration-related arrests just months after Suffolk and Middlesex District Attorneys Rachael Rollins and Marian Ryan filed a federal lawsuit to keep federal immigration authorities out of courthouses–and won, albeit temporarily.

The impacts of that preliminary injunction came into full display on Wednesday when US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that New England saw its lowest number of immigration-related arrests in two years. While many regions across the US similarly mentioned numbers of arrests dipping due to spreading sanctuary city policies, Marcos Charles, acting field director of the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arm, said the injunction, which keeps ICE agents from detaining individuals in and around county courthouses, has played a role.  

“The secure environment of a jail or a courthouse where we can easily take that person into custody has been taken away in that jurisdiction,” he said. “Not only is it more of a danger to the officers, now you’re putting officers into residential communities looking for the targeted aliens.”

According to MassLive, Charles said there’s a greater likelihood that officers will encounter and detain undocumented immigrants with no criminal records by looking for individuals in their communities instead of at courthouses.

Lawyers for Civil Rights estimated ICE made more than 100 courthouse arrests statewide the year before the temporary injunction.

ICE’s Boston field office, which oversees the New England states, made 2,469 administrative arrests in fiscal 2019, a 15 percent drop from the previous year. Nationwide, the number of individuals arrested by ICE dropped by nearly 10 percent. Civil arrests of convicted criminals dropped 12 percent. The agency says enforcement activity also dropped in many states because hundreds of officers were reassigned to support southwest border operations. The Boston office would not release numbers on how many local officers were deployed to the border.

Charles told MassLive he’s less concerned about the lower number of arrests, and more about elected officials impacting the agency’s ability to detain criminals.

“Any time a politician or an elected official uses law enforcement as a political tool, it puts the whole community in danger,” he said. “By limiting law enforcement’s ability, they are directly affecting the safety of the community.”

While agency officials aren’t pleased with Rollins or Ryan, they’re also incensed at area “sanctuary cities,” which have municipal rules to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, and often order local law enforcement officials not to comply with federal immigration detainers.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone told the Boston Herald that sanctuary cities are generally safer. “In fact, due to several factors, Somerville’s crime rate is down 50 percent since we became a sanctuary city more than 30 years ago,” he said. “Our top priority is and will continue to be protecting and serving all of our residents. We won’t abandon our values just because this administration is trying to make our communities out to be the boogeyman.”

SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

Lawmakers finally pass a budget close-out bill that drops a controversial business tax break, provides less funding for the T, and shifts more money into the state’s rainy day fund. (State House News) In what may be a preview of coming attractions, the House challenges the state comptroller’s authority to issue ultimatums to the Legislature on when spending bills need to be done. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker talks up his transportation-funding approach at an event for the business community as he tries to build support for a so-called cap-and-invest initiative with 11 other states and the District of Columbia. (CommonWealth) Opponents, including several Republican legislators, slam the proposal as a hidden gas tax. (Boston Herald

Baker’s vaping ban ends. It doesn’t seem like much was accomplished, but the governor defends his decision. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Boston City Council approves a new fee on real estate transactions over $2 million and plans to use the funds to build affordable housing. Details will be finalized if the Legislature gives its blessing by passing the city’s home rule petition. (CommonWealth) The council also updated the Trust Act, clarifying limits on police cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (MassLive)

Brookline has joined Somerville in banning its local government from using facial recognition technology. (WGBH)

Great Barrington residents set in motion what is likely to be a long legislative process to bring horse racing to the community’s old fairgrounds. (Berkshire Eagle)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Harvey Weinstein reaches a tentative $25 million deal to settle nearly every sexual misconduct lawsuit against him. (Associated Press)

ELECTIONS

Massachusetts Republicans score a rare victory, as Senate President Karen Spilka bows to their desire to hold special elections for two seats being vacated by Republicans on March 31, with the primaries on March 3. Spilka had wanted the general election on March 3, the day of the Massachusetts presidential primary, but Republicans feared their candidates would be swamped on that day as Democrats come out to vote for a replacement for President Trump. (MassLive)

During an impromptu interview on the Red Line, Julia Mejia calls her one-vote Boston City Council win a victory for “regular folks.” (CommonWealth)

Former governor Deval Patrick may face a deposition in the midst of his presidential run in lawsuit over gender discrimination and retaliation filed by three women he appointed astats judges. 

Lawrence Lessig and Jennifer Braceras tee up the pros and cons of ranked-choice voting. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The prohibition on flavored nicotine products is forcing vaping stores to rethink how they can run their businesses. (WBUR) 

Lynn and state officials hold a groundbreaking for a $100 million mixed-use development on a waterfront property that has been vacant for more than three decades. (Daily Item)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The National Law Review has an explainer on a bill that would restrict off-campus facility fee billing in the Commonwealth. 

ARTS/CULTURE

Architecture students from Rhode Island School of Design developed 11 proposals for public space improvements in Fall River, and have been tapped for a design project. (Herald News) 

Arts and cultural organizations once excluded from the New Bedford Seaport Cultural District are cheering their inclusion in the district’s newly expanded boundary. (Standard-Times) 

TRANSPORTATION 

The US House passed a measure that would prohibit the use of federal transit dollars to purchase buses or subway cars from Chinese state-owned or state-controlled firms, but Rep. Richard Neal says language in the bill would allow the Chinese-owned factory that opened two years ago in Springfield to complete its contract to build new Red and Orange line cars for the MBTA. (Boston Globe)

Boston officials unveil a design concept for a new Northern Avenue Bridge that has a “people first” focus on pedestrians and bicyclists. (Boston Globe

The Cape Cod Times is putting the spotlight on the region’s worst intersections, ranked by the number of crashes. 

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

They are much less devastating than the fires and explosions of last year, but leaks from natural gas pipes have become all too common in Lawrence, which bothers Fire Chief Brian Moriarty. (Eagle-Tribune

Six people were arrested trying to stop crews from preparing for the construction of a 7,700-horsepower natural gas Weymouth compressor station fiercely opposed by nearby residents and elected officials. (Patriot Ledger) 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Stephen Lovely, a former Salem city councilor and the husband of Sen. Joan Lovely, has lost his law license over his misconduct in the acquisition of a multifamily home. (Salem News

The Plymouth County district attorney has filed new charges against contractors David and Karen Welch, including larceny, following a housing scheme that left a couple with an unfinished home. (Brockton Enterprise)