Somerville mayor ‘absolutely’ in favor of Massachusetts becoming sanctuary state

BOSTON (WHDH) - Immigration activists rallied Wednesday outside the State House on Beacon Hill, pushing to make Massachusetts a “sanctuary state.” The move would protect unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

Supporters say a proposed Senate bill is gaining steam, but opponents say it’s dangerous and would tie the hands of local law enforcement.

“I do. Absolutely, I do,” Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said when 7’s Sharman Sacchetti asked him if he was in favor of making Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

Curtatone said that being a sanctuary city works well for Somerville, despite the Trump administration’s threat to defund.

“We’re a sanctuary city in Somerville and we’re proud of it,” Curtatone said. “Thirty years and it’s been an integral part of our success.”

The bill is just one of the measures that would make Massachusetts a sanctuary state. It’s sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge.

“My bill would prohibit the police from collaborating with ICE agents to make sure that unless someone committed a crime, they shouldn’t be handed over for deportation,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge said support for the bill is growing and claims there is good reason.

“If you have collaboration between federal ICE agents and state and local police, it causes immigrant communities to be afraid to interact or talk with the police,” Eldridge said.

Not all politicians see the bill the way Eldridge does.

“The federal funding threat I think is real. I think Massachusetts has to take it seriously,” State Representative Geoff Diehl said.

Diehl, the Republican co-chair of President Trump’s Massachusetts campaign, thinks the bill is a bad idea.

“It basically ties the hands of local law enforcement and federal law enforcement to deport somebody who is here with a criminal background who shouldn’t be here,” Diehl said.

Sacchetti also asked Gov. Charlie Baker to weigh in on the bill.

“I don’t support making Massachusetts a sanctuary state,” Baker said.

Baker called the push a local issue.

“Local communities, local elected officials, are much better suited to make these decisions,” Baker said.

The bill’s future is uncertain at this time.

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