Boston mayor-elect Martin Walsh is pushing to bypass a controversial federal mandate that requires police to share with immigration officials fingerprints of anyone arrested — a move one sheriff and longtime defender of the policy says could backfire, reports the Boston Herald. “I can't believe any elected official who is in charge of keeping neighborhoods safe would not want law enforcement to have every available tool to get these criminal illegal aliens off our streets and out of our country,” said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who battled Gov. Deval Patrick over the ?Secure Communities program before it was enacted statewide last year.
Walsh said yesterday at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy's Thanksgiving lunch he supported the group's opposition to the program, which immigration advocates say has caused legal and illegal immigrants to fear police. “If we can get around it, I won't (implement it),” Walsh said. He favors the Trust Act, a bill before the legislature that would weaken the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program by limiting the information police can give to federal authorities about illegal immigrants. Boston police began participating in a Secure Communities pilot program in 2006 before its official launch. Former Police Commissioner Edward Davis defended it as a “commonsense” approach. A year later, he delivered a letter from Mayor Thomas Menino to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials in which the mayor said the program needed to be dramatically changed or “scrapped” because it was “diminishing trust” between the immigrant community and police.