Lelling goes off on sanctuary city movement

A week after President Trump lashed out at sanctuary cities in his State of the Union speech and days after Attorney General William Barr launched a legal offensive against them, US Attorney Andrew Lelling of Massachusetts weighed in locally, calling the sanctuary city movement a “genuine and persistent threat to our communities and the rule of law.”

In an op-ed in the Boston Herald, Lelling said Immigration and Customs Enforcement “is not randomly plucking people off the streets; it is prioritizing the arrest of those who (a) knowingly entered the United States illegally and (b) are now engaged in other criminal activity, are gang-affiliated, or bear some other indicator that they are a risk to the public.”

Lelling said ICE made 2,469 civil arrests in fiscal 2019, and 90 percent of those who were arrested had prior criminal convictions or arrests on criminal charges. “This should be utterly uncontroversial,” Lelling said. “In fact, it should be applauded.”

But Lelling said all too often municipalities direct local police officers not to cooperate with ICE; there is also the Safe Communities Act that is still alive on Beacon Hill that would limit communications and cooperation between local law enforcement officials and ICE.

Supporters say the Safe Communities Act would improve public safety by allowing undocumented immigrants to step forward without fear of being deported if they are aware of or a victim of a crime. Rep. Ruth Balser of Newton, a cosponsor of the Safe Communities Act, said there are steps the state can take to make Massachusetts “a safe and welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.”

But Lelling indicated sanctuary measures, like those in Boston, run counter to the rule of law and endanger public safety. He cited a case from 2017 where a Dominican named Luis Baez, who had previously been deported for drug and gun crimes, returned to the United States and allegedly raped a Boston College student while working as an Uber driver under an alias. Middlesex County prosecutors, aware of his immigrant status, sought $100,000 bail and GPS monitoring to make sure he showed up in court.

Despite that knowledge, Newton District Court Judge Mary Beth Heffernan granted Baez $2,500 cash bail. “No one notified ICE,” Lelling said. “He fled the country, and that young woman has yet to see justice done.

Lelling accused sanctuary city supporters of selectively deciding which laws to enforce. He said it’s no different from Second Amendment backers who are preemptively refusing to abide by gun control laws. “This is the future this movement has created: local officials, basking in their own self-righteousness, deciding simply not to follow laws they personally opposed.”

Lelling, one of the Boston Globe’s Bostonians of the year in 2019, did not mention in his op-ed his prosecution of another Newton district court judge, Shelley Richmond Joseph, who is accused of obstruction of justice for allegedly helped an undocumented immigrant evade an ICE agent at her courthouse. That case is still pending.

BRUCE MOHL


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Worcester City Council committee endorsed a revised financing plan for the Worcester Red Sox minor league ballpark that commits an additional $20 million in city funds to the project. (Telegram & Gazette)

A federal judge granted a motion filed by federal prosecutors in the criminal case against former mayor Jasiel Correia II and co-defendant Gen Andrade Monday that would allow the Cannabis Control Commission access to protected discovery evidence involving five city marijuana vendors. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is floating the idea of state-run marijuana stores. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Democrats delivered their final messages in advance of today’s New Hampshire primary, with front-runners Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg offering very different visions for their quest to take on President Trump. (Boston Globe)

A New Hampshire bar has become a weeklong pop-up newsroom for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, which has published over 30 primary stories in the past week in a project called “Manchester Divided.” In one dispatch, voters seem to throw age out the window when deciding who to vote for in a race that has Sanders and Buttigieg in the top two spots.

Gabrielle Gurley takes the temperature of Deval Patrick’s longshot presidential campaign and finds something less than a fever pitch. (American Prospect)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Living hand to mouth? There’s an app for that, as new sector of financial service firms let workers draw wages on daily basis — for a fee of course. Critics call it hightech payday lending. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

UMass Boston gets the chancellor search right the second time around, as Marcelo Suárez-Orozco is unanimously selected as the campus’s new leader. (State House News)

Two national teacher unions call for ending student involvement in lockdown drills. (NPR)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Nursing homes on Cape Cod are tackling opioid addiction with a cornucopia of services. (Cape Cod Times)

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA officials outline how they are going to balance the budget for the next five years. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says she thinks it’s “a real good story.” (CommonWealth)

Advocates are split on using a portion of the Charles River as essentially a staging area for the rebuilding of the Turnpike and associated roadways and rail tracks packed in between Boston University and the river. (CommonWealth)

T notes: Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says she’s worried whether replacement bus service during lengthy shutdowns for repairs on the Blue and Green Lines this spring and summer will be up to snuff….State transportation officials hold a moment of silence for bus driver who died at Quincy Center Station….Baker administration starting to mobilize on congestion. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

General Electric agreed to pay five towns in the Berkshires $63 million and mount a massive cleanup effort to rid the Housatonic River of toxic chemicals the company dumped into for decades. (Boston Globe)

The mayors of Holyoke and Northampton call for state action to deal with the state’s recycling situation, with communities having to pay to unload paper and cans instead of being paid to recycle them. (MassLive)

John Hartnett, the president of Mayflower Wind tells The Standard-Times that he anticipates the New Bedford Marine Terminal will be the site for construction of an offshore wind turbine.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Attorneys representing inmates at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley dispute the Department of Correction’s claim that everything is back to normal after a crackdown following an attack on guards. (CommonWealth) Boston state Rep. Chynah Tyler says unrest at the prison is spilling over into violence in the streets, but corrections officials say the charge is entirely “unfounded.” (Boston Globe) The union representing corrections officers slammed Sen. Jamie Eldridge, saying he has sided with inmates in the wake of the January 10 incident and subsequent prison crackdown. (Boston Herald)

Fall River police are facing a civil rights lawsuit involving the 2016 death of a 48-year-old man shot by a stun gun as officers subdued him. (The Enterprise)

US Attorney Andrew Lelling and Boston’s top FBI agent, Joseph Bonavolonta, sound the alarm on Chinese espionage activities centered on intellectual property. (Boston Globe)

The parents of a 13-year-old Pembroke girl who was killed in a December car crash are suing the driver and the company he worked with, Hi-Way Safety Systems, for in her wrongful death. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

The Wall Street Journal tops 2 million digital subscribers. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Media critic Dan Kennedy wonders whether newspaper endorsements matter after former Concord Monitor editor Meg Heckman posted a Twitter thread about the paper’s decision to not endorse in the New Hampshire primary. (Media Nation)