The ACLU of Massachusetts is fighting back against cruel federal immigration practices and local anti-immigrant policies, and fighting for the rights of all Massachusetts residents to feel safe and free in their communities.
In the last decade, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained and deported millions of people from the United States. Now, the federal government is pursuing a mass deportation agenda to detain and deport as many immigrants as possible, no matter costs to civil rights and family unity.
The ACLU has been at the forefront of several major legal struggles on behalf of immigrants’ rights, focusing on challenging laws that deny immigrants access to the courts, impose indefinite and mandatory detention, and discriminate on the basis of nationality. In 2014, we won a federal class action lawsuit challenging the government’s overuse of “mandatory” immigration detention to imprison non-citizens – many of them longtime, lawful permanent residents – without bond while their immigration cases are pending. As of January 2015, thanks to a court order in this case, many people have been released from immigration detention and reunited with their families.
In addition, we challenge constitutional abuses that arise from immigration enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. In 2017, the ACLU of Massachusetts contributed to a case addressing whether local and state officials who hold undocumented immigrants on “ICE detainer” are in violation of the Massachusetts state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court decided that our state and local law enforcement do not have the legal authority to detain people on ICE detainers alone.
In Massachusetts, dozens of cities have implemented policies limiting local collaboration with federal deportation efforts. While each locality has decided for itself the scope of those limitations, the ACLU of Massachusetts – bolstered by its community partners and supporters – has worked in cities and towns to help immigrants feel safer and more welcomed. On Beacon Hill, we continue to advocate for statewide measures that expand and enforce the civil liberties and civil rights of immigrants and combat public and private discrimination against them.