Letters to the Editor

MIRA Applauds DHS Move to End Detention Agreements

To the Editor,

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) issued the following statement in response to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s decision to order the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to end its immigration detention contract with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts:

MIRA is gratified that Secretary Mayorkas took this vital and necessary step to end the unjust detention of immigrants at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, as well as at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, as reported this morning by the Washington Post. Our coalition has long opposed the entanglement of local police with federal immigration enforcement actions and detentions and the 287(g) program nationally,” said Daniel Pereira, spokesperson for the MIRA Coalition.

These agreements represent a wasteful use of public funds, deter immigrant victims and witnesses from reporting crimes, and often lead to racial profiling.

The Bristol County Sheriff’s office has a particularly checkered history when it comes to the treatment of immigrant detainees, and in fact, it remains under federal investigation for allegations of abuse and unsafe conditions.

MIRA also once again urges the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor to move forward and pass the Safe Communities Act as well the Act Relative to Enforcing Federal Law. These laws protect everyone’s basic rights, ensure access to justice in our courts, and restore the safety and dignity of all our communities.  Enacting them is vital to the continued security of every Massachusetts resident.

We hope that this necessary step is just the first on a longer, but equally vital, path toward ending 287(g) agreements nationwide, protecting our vital immigrant communities, and re-orienting local law enforcement toward public safety. Federal, state, and local governments need to restore trust in public institutions and ensure that all residents, regardless of documentation status, are able to access medical care, emergency assistance, and court and police protection without fear.

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

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