ACLU of Massachusetts Applauds Boston Police Commissioner's Opposition to the CLEAR Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Federal Law Would Turn Local Police Into Immigration Officers,” Commissioner O’Toole Says
BOSTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts today praised Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole for opposing the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act, an act expected to be taken up again this term by Congress that would pressure local and state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
“While all law enforcement agencies are working creatively to respond to the real threat of terrorism since 9/11, it is my hope that we can find alternative means to address illegal immigrant issues rather than turning all local police officers into immigration officers,” said O’Toole, in a letter sent to ACLU of Massachusetts. (See below for the full text of the letter.)
The CLEAR Act, which had over 100 congressional co-sponsors in the last session of Congress, has been denounced by police chiefs across the country.
“By going on record against the CLEAR Act, Commissioner O’Toole has sent an important signal that the Boston Police Department acknowledges that ethnic and racial profiling are bad law enforcement,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “We applaud the Commissioner for resisting efforts by the federal government to turn our local police departments into enforcement arms of ICE and the FBI.”
ICE is the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the three agencies that replaced the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
O’Toole pointed out in her letter that for years Boston has been a national model for success in community policing. ” “This success is based on the relationships that have been developed between community members and local law enforcement officers who work diligently to create an atmosphere of trust,” she said. “The CLEAR Act ?will directly affect the relationships that have been established and create a chilling effect on the level of cooperation with local law enforcement that now exists within Boston’s immigrant communities.”
The Commissioner’s statement aligns Boston with other major city police departments that have publicly spoken out against the CLEAR Act, including the New York City Police Department, the California Police Chiefs’ Associations, the Chicago Police Department, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, the Miami Florida Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (ICPA).
“Commissioner O’Toole’s statement makes it clear that post-9/11 federal policies are also local issues,” Rose said. “We urge the members of the Boston City Council to add their leadership and voices to these efforts to protect their constituents by passing a resolution opposing those provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other federal government policies that undermine the basic freedoms of Boston residents.”
Across the country, 371 communities in 43 states — including four state legislatures — have passed resolutions demanding that the Patriot Act be fixed and brought back in line with the Constitution, For more information on community resolutions, go to /safeandfree
Text of letter from Boston Police Department Commissioner to ACLU:
February 11, 2005
American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
99 Chauncy Street, Suite 310
Boston, MA 02111
Dear Ms. Rose:
As Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, I write to state my opposition to the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act, which is likely to be taken up by the new Congress early this year. The CLEAR Act will require state and local police to enforce civil immigration laws.
As you are aware, for years Boston has been a national model for success in community policing. This success is based on the relationships that have been developed between community members and local law enforcement officers who work diligently to create an atmosphere of trust. The Boston Police Department has learned that it is only with such trust that immigrants, who are far too often targets of violent crime due to their status, will feel confident that reporting crime and suspicious activity will result in action by the Boston Police Department. The CLEAR Act however, will directly affect the relationships that have been established and create a chilling effect on the level of cooperation with local law enforcement that now exists within Boston’s immigrant communities. The Department is dedicated to work in partnership with the community to fight crime, reduce fear and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
Because of this anticipated detrimental effect, I seek your support in opposing the CLEAR Act. While all law enforcement agencies are working creatively to respond to the real threat of terrorism since 9/11, it is my hope that we can find alternative means to address illegal immigrant issues rather than turning all local police officers into immigration officers.
Thank you for your consideration of my position in this very serious matter.
Kathleen M. O’Toole
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