Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will have a dozen correction officers in two state prisons trained to enforce immigration laws, says the Boston Globe. He rescinded a controversial agreement between Governor Mitt Romney and federal authorities that allowed State Police to arrest illegal immigrants. Patrick told his public safety secretary, Kevin M. Burke, to negotiate an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would allow six correction officers to undergo four weeks of training to perform “limited immigration law enforcement” duties.
The correction officers would have the power to initiate deportation proceedings against convicted criminals whom they identify as illegal immigrants after being processed at the two prisons. “It has worked in other states,” Patrick said. He added that his actions “balance our responsibility to ensure public safety and to address illegal immigration.” Other jurisdictions where correction officers have such power include the Arizona prison system and several county jails in California. Patrick said Romney’s plan would have taken troopers from their core duties, including combating violence, drug abuse, and gun trafficking. About 700 of the 10,800 inmates in the state prison system are believed to be illegal immigrants.