For those who think that the immigration issue applies only to border states, yesterday the federal government announced that the secure communities program, which targets undocumented individuals (specifically those with criminal records), will expand into Massachusetts on May 15, according to The Boston Globe.
The article said that the announcement caught state officials by surprise, since the original plan was to launch the program by the end of 2013. Governor Duval Patrick, a Democrat and a surrogate to President Obama's 2012 campaign, has consistently said that such a program is discriminatory and unfairly locates undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.
This is what Governor Patrick said last year:
"I'm persuaded that here in the commonwealth, we will give up more than we get. We run a serious risk of ethnic profiling and frankly fracturing incredibly important relationships in communities that are necessary for law enforcement."
Now let's get this straight: most people (including us) agree that people who committed serious crimes should indeed be arrested and if they have immigration issues, they deportation is an option. However, the secure communities program has quickly become yet another symbol of anti-immigrant hate, as well as it being anti-Latino. On Boston radio today, many callers were supporting the program because this is all about "those illegals taking our jobs" and "using our services." The fact is that the immigration issue is complex (for example, economic need for cheap labor, those jobs that Americans can apply for, but they decide not to) and by creating a wider net, there is the risk that if you don't speak English or "look different," you will get checked about your immigration status. This is how it started in Germany, people, whether you agree with that or not, check your history.
But that won't stop the neo-nativists, who quite frankly, have become an influential voice in the Republican Party. That is why Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R) was quick to comment about the expansion of the program into his state. According the to Globe, Brown said the program is "an important tool in keeping our citizens safe and giving our law enforcement officials, especially the sheriffs, the tools and resources they need to do their jobs."
"The people of Massachusetts will finally have the protection they deserve from violent criminals who have entered our country illegally."
The fact is that this is all about ONE high-profile case in Massachusetts: the death of 23-year-old Matthew Denice, who was killed by Nicolás Guaman when Guaman's pickup truck struck Denice's motorcycle. Now there is an "illegal alien criminal" problem in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts residents are being hounded by the "illegal criminal" menace. We do wonder if Sen. Brown feels the same way about the US Border Patrol's killing of Anastasio Rojas? We doubt it.
In the end, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, whose office investigated Denice's death, had vowed to bring the secure communities law to Massachusetts:
"Following the tragic death of Matthew, I made a promise to his family that I would do everything in my power to bring this program to Massachusetts so that other families would not have to endure the pain they suffered."
One tragic crime and now Massachusetts has a controversial program being launched. Fear is alive and well.