Federal immigration agents are forging new alliances with local law enforcement agencies across Massachusetts in an effort to crack down on hard-core criminals, spurring anxiety and applause within immigrant communities, says the Boston Globe. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has been taking its message on the road, offering so-called ICE 101 presentations to prosecutors, probation officers, and large police departments.
Some departments have eagerly signed on. With immigration officials’ encouragement, police and other agencies across the state are making thousands of calls to a federal clearinghouse in Vermont to check the status and identity of immigrants. In some cases, the alliance is initiated by the municipalities. In other instances, it involves encouragement from the immigration agency to take advantage of its expertise. In almost all cases, the fledgling partnerships have stirred controversy about their impact on Massachusetts’ rapidly growing immigrant populations at a time when illegal immigration is a key issue in the presidential campaign. Some community leaders are concerned that immigrants whose only violation is being in the U.S., a civil offense, will be swept up in the effort.