The ACLU of Massachusetts, together with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), today issued a memorandum to the Massachusetts Legislature, outlining the organizations' legal analysis of the recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling on immigrant detention and of Governor Baker's proposed legislation that seeks to undo that ruling.

As the memo explains, the Court held in Commonwealth v. Lunn that it is unlawful for local law enforcement officials to hold a person solely at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Baker's proposed legislation asks the Legislature to create new authority for such detention.

"The [Supreme Judicial Court] decision is based on statutory and common law, but aligns with core constitutional principles regarding due process," the ACLU of Massachusetts and MIRA wrote in the memo. "Any attempt to authorize state and local law enforcement to hold people on the basis of a mere ICE detainer request, including the bill filed by Governor Baker on August 1, 2017, would be unconstitutional."

"Newly filed legislation from Governor Baker is fundamentally flawed, because it would authorize police to detain a person without probable cause that they have committed a crime. Not only would it undermine public safety by causing residents to fear their local police; it would invite costly and unnecessary litigation about its constitutionality," the ACLU and MIRA wrote.

The memo — in addition to opposing the legislation filed by Governor Baker — calls on the Legislature to pass legislation that would further protect Massachusetts residents from an overreaching federal immigration system by banning contracts that deputize local agents to assume federal powers to act as ICE agents; setting standards regarding when to notify ICE that an individual is in state or local custody; and requiring due process protections.

"Massachusetts has often led the nation in advancing due process and civil rights. Any attempt to take away those rights and revert to a system that supports Trump's politically-motivated anti-immigrant policies would be a huge step in the wrong direction," the memo concludes.

Read the full memo

Learn more about Commonwealth v. Lunn, the recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling on immigrant detention.