Baker goes after Patrick on immigration policy

By Jason MarderGazette

Saturday, September 25, 2010

BOSTON – Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker attacked Gov. Deval Patrick Thursday for not signing an agreement with federal immigration officials that he said would make it easier for state police to detain illegal immigrants.

“Gov. Patrick talks a lot about values,” Baker said at a news briefing outside the Statehouse. “Keeping the most dangerous criminals on the street by not coordinating with federal immigration officials like Gov. Patrick is doing, is not a value I would be proud of.”

Baker was referring to the Secure Communities program started under President Bush and continued by the Obama administration, which allows law enforcement to run fingerprints of those arrested through a federal immigration database.

“It’s outrageous the governor is dragging his feet on signing an agreement with federal immigration officials for a year now,” Baker said.

The Patrick campaign released a statement via email later in the day challenging Baker’s statements saying, “Governor Patrick supports the intent of the ‘Secure Communities’ program, which is to take violent criminals off our streets. He is working with public safety officials to evaluate the program to ensure that it will achieve this goal.”

The Patrick campaign went on to question how Baker would make communities more secure when his budget proposals call for cuts in local aid funding and public safety.

Baker cited 32 states and Boston as successful examples of the cooperative relationship Massachusetts should have with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency. “With this program more than 41,000 criminal illegal immigrants have been removed from our streets,” Baker said.

Baker pledged to sign the agreement immediately if elected and said he would issue a memorandum of understanding that would allow state police to coordinate with ICE.

Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan joined Baker at the Statehouse to support the federal-state agreement. Sullivan, a former Republican state legislator, said the public expects law enforcement to share critical information.

“The fact of the matter is there are criminal aliens that are allowed to walk the streets of the commonwealth and across our country because Massachusetts is refusing to enter into this memorandum of agreement,” said Sullivan.

Independent candidate for governor Timothy Cahill also criticized Patrick and cited in a letter to Patrick that Boston’s involvement in a pilot version of the program was a testament to its success.

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