Brazilian Immigrant Center Protests Against Anti-Immigrant Bill and Local Sheriffs' Attempts to bring back Secure Communities
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Today the Brazilian Immigrant Center and Centro Presente were two community organizations that attended the press conference at the Statehouse concerning a new attempt of anti-immigrant laws in Massachusetts. Republican Senators and three sheriffes announced that they intended to make life even harder for many immigrants. The legislators proposed a bill that tightens motor vehicle registration requirements by requiring a Social Security card or tax ID number, and stiffens penalties for driving without a license. Under the new penalties, driving without a license would carry a $500 penalty on a first offense – increased from $100 - and carry the potential for jail time on any subsequent offense. Drivers repeatedly caught without a license could face forfeiture of their vehicle after the third offense. In addition penalties for creating, disseminating or using false identification would also be increased. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald Jr. and Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis recently met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Washington D.C. in order to allow correction officers in their jurisdictions to check information about arrestees through federal immigration databases. The sheriffs are essentially trying to implement Secure Communities in their jurisdictions despite Governor Deval Patrick opting out of the law. The group is asking for swift passage and cites to recent incidents including the death of 23-year-old Matthew Denice, who was killed by a drunk driver who happened to be undocumented and the sixth arrest of a man for drunk driving after he was deported and returned to the United States. BIC firmly is against all criminal acts especially drunk driving but the entire immigrant community should not be punished for the actions of few. Indeed, it is clear that many people are really using these drunk driving incidents as a cover to their racist, anti-immigrant biases. Secure Communities is not going to stop drunk driving and neither is punishing the entire immigrant community.