A packed house at the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security hearing on H.3573, the Safe Communities Act
Representative Michelle Ciccolo's Safe Communities Act testimony:

January 24, 2019

Dear Chair Naughton and Chair Moore:

I write today in strong support of H.3573, An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents , otherwise known as the Safe Communities Act .  Over the last three years, our country has witnessed egregious acts of violence aimed at refugee and immigrant communities, which have been accompanied by a marked rise in white nationalist rhetoric and activities. This has been in addition to the horrific policies from the Trump Administration that separate communities and families every day.

Massachusetts should be a safe and welcoming place to live and visit for all individuals and families, regardless of their immigration status. However, as we have seen in the last few years, our Commonwealth is not immune to the effects of these policies. Our immigrant constituents—whether they are in a mixed-status family, lack documentation themselves, or have a legal status that has been threatened by the Trump Administration—live in daily fear of deportation. By rebuilding trust between law enforcement and residents, protecting due process rights, and establishing standards for notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), H.3573, the Safe Communities Act , will send a message to immigrant communities in Massachusetts that they are an integral part of our cities, towns, and neighborhoods throughout the Commonwealth.

The Safe Communities Act includes important mechanisms to promote public safety and health for all residents. There are numerous accounts of undocumented immigrants who are victims of or witnesses to crimes, yet do not come forward out of fear that police or court officials will contact ICE to report their immigration status. Many are even afraid to go to the doctor or take their children for routine checkups, vaccinations, or even emergency care out of fear that they will be reported. By ensuring that police and court officials only contact ICE when required to by law, the Safe Communities Act empowers those impacted by crime to report their experiences to law enforcement, who in turn need community cooperation to do their jobs. It further permits individuals to seek the resources they need in order to take care of themselves and their families, protecting and promoting the public health of all members of our communities.

In addition to these measures, the Safe Communities Act takes important steps to protect the due process rights of residents. The legislation only allows law enforcement and court officials to notify ICE about the location of an immigrant post-adjudication. Currently, without this protection in place, immigrants are sometimes detained by ICE before their trial, robbing them of a trial. H.3573 also requires that an individual be notified of their right to an attorney before being interviewed by an ICE agent, similar to Miranda rights, which are a core component of our due process system.

Finally, the Safe Communities Act ends 287(g) agreements, which allow local law enforcement be deputized as federal ICE agents at local taxpayer expense. Ending these harmful agreements will help to preserve relationships built between local police and immigrant communities while ensuring that local public resources are being used to promote public safety instead of cruel federal policies.

This legislation is specifically important to the 15 th Middlesex District given the large number of judicial facilities located there. Residents throughout my district have communicated their strong support of this measure, and as two welcoming, open communities, it is important to Lexington and Woburn that we do everything we can to look out for the most vulnerable among us.

The Safe Communities Act is a critical measure to keep our immigrant constituents safe, ensure their Constitutional rights are protected, and promote public safety for all. For these reasons, I strongly urge a favorable report on H.3573. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of further assistance on this matter, and thank you again for your consideration.


Michelle Ciccolo
State Representative
15 th Middlesex District