Lawmakers File Bill on Illegals
By: Tom Duggan – October, 2011
BOSTON – With the recent tragic death of Milford resident Matthew Denice, Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, and Rep. John V. Fernandes, D-Milford, joined together with Sen. Bruce E. Tarr, R-Gloucester, and Rep. George Peterson Jr., R-Grafton, in drafting comprehensive legislation that absent a federal solution to legal and illegal immigration, addresses the strains placed on personal, municipal, and statewide finances as a result of illegal immigration.
“An Act To Enhance Community Safety” addresses the impact illegal immigration has on our local police, our local schools, our local housing markets, and our local economies.
“This legislation offers a comprehensive solution to the problems created by illegal immigration,” stated Moore “This is not a partisan issue and we must work together in the name of public safety,” added Moore.
This legislation, first and foremost, addresses the implementation of the Secure Communities Program. With increased interest across the Commonwealth, this legislation includes a report to the legislature by the Executive Office of Public Safety (EOPS), in which they are to identify how they are assisting with the deployment of the Secure Communities Program.
The legislation attempts to address an increase in the strain placed on schools, hospitals, courts and other institutions as a result of illegal immigration in many Massachusetts communities. “We agreed to draft and file a comprehensive piece of legislation which will seek to address all the issues within the control of state government,” Moore said.
Moore, Fernandes, Tarr and Peterson said the bipartisan sponsors of the bill will be helpful as it moves through the legislative process. Senate co-sponsors are: Sen. Steve A. Baddour, D-Methuen, Sen. James E. Timilty, D-Walpole, Sen. Robert L. Hedlund, R-Weymouth, Sen. Michael R. Knapik, R-Westfield, and Sen. Richard J. Ross, R-Wrentham and Rep. Stephen L. DiNatale, D-Fitchburg.
“Enough is enough,” said Bruce Tarr, “and many publicized incidents over the past several months have proven time and again that the price for tolerating the acts of those who refuse to respect the laws of our nation and our Commonwealth is harm to our citizens and abuse of our resources. The time is long overdue for us to act in a comprehensive way to protect public safety and ensure that public funds benefit only those who deserve them.”
Tarr told the Valley Patriot “Over the past several months we have repeatedly seen examples of people who violate the laws of our nation and our Commonwealth and cause harm. We need to act now to ensure that taxpayer funds aren’t used to reward those who remain in Massachusetts illegally, and that our law enforcement officials have the tools available to provide public safety. This legislation responds to those needs.”
According to State House News Service, Massachusetts State Senate President Senate President Therese Murray is now questioning Gov. Deval Patrick’s hesitance to embrace Secure Communities, a federal program to cross-check the immigration status of arrestees and queue up serious undocumented offenders for deportation.
“I’m really not sure. I have not had a full discussion with him on it,” she said. “We have to do it anyway. All of the states have to do it by 2013” State House News Service reporterd.
During an appearance on Marshfield-based WATD-FM, Murray pointed to a weeklong crackdown by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that concluded Wednesday and resulted in the arrest of 2,900 “criminal aliens” around the country, including dozens in Massachusetts.
“I think that this roundup they just did really points that we have a problem,” said the Plymouth Democrat. An aide later confirmed she supports the activation of Secure Communities in Massachusetts.
Murray also said she agreed with a group of Republican county sheriffs pushing for tools to perform immigration checks on inmates, adding that most county jails already implement a “system of biometrics” to verify the status of prisoners.
The bill comes about one month after Milford resident Matthew Denice died in a motor vehicle accident. Denice, 23, was killed when Nicolas D. Guaman, an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk, struck Denice’s motorcycle, police say.
“While we’ve worked to address some of these issues in other bills and the state budget, I think certainly the incident with Matthew Denice’s death has caused us to redouble our efforts and try to be more comprehensive in our approach,” Moore said. “For the first time, we have a bill that is covering nearly all the steps we need to take as a Commonwealth to ensure that taxpayers – not illegal immigrants – benefit from public programs and are as safe as possible from those that are here illegally seeking to do our citizens harm”, said Baddour. “We cannot and should not be spending monies from taxpayer-funded public benefit programs on those who are breaking the law.”
Denice’s death has sparked a call for illegal immigration reforms including adopting Secure Communities, a federal initiative designed to facilitate communication between federal immigration authorities and local police.
Joao Brito of the Netherlands was arrested and charged in May, 2011 for his connection to the vandalism of a vehicle in Boston. Fingerprints from the arrest revealed that Brito was wanted by Dutch authorities for sexual abuse of children and human smuggling, information obtained because of the successful use of the Secure Communities Program being implemented in Suffolk County.
And then on the morning of Saturday, September 24, 2011 Eduardo Torres was charged with his 6th OUI. During a sobriety test Torres provided police officers with a fake name and only after booking did they learn that he had 2 previous OUI arrests in Massachusetts and 3 in California. It was also discovered that Torres had previously been deported out of the country.
The bill unveiled today would require individuals or businesses seeking to register a vehicle to produce documentation such as a federal tax identification number, license or social security number. The bill would also strengthen penalties for people who drive without a license or knowingly allow someone else to drive their vehicle.
“It’s a major concern,” Peterson said of driving without a license. “As we move forward, I think we need to tighten up our rules and regulations to ensure that anyone with a Massachusetts driver’s license is a legal resident of the Commonwealth and the United States.”
Current fines for driving without a license range from $100 to $1,000. The bill would create a $500 fine for a first offense, $500 to $1,000 fine and/or a 30-day jail term for a second offense, and $1,000 to $2,000 fine and/or a 60-day jail sentence for a third or subsequent offense. Police may require the suspect to forfeit his or her vehicle after the third offense.
In addition to illegal immigrants, “it’s recognizing there are people who are citizens as well as illegal aliens, who don’t have a license and still drive continuing to pose a danger to the public,” Moore said.
The legislation also ensures that state-subsidized housing is reserved for legal Massachusetts residents and aims to help local building officials prevent multi-bedroom apartments from housing several families.
Employment provisions of the bill include establishing penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers and requiring companies seeking public contracts to participate in programs to verify the eligibility of their employees, according to the documents.
“I firmly believe that the source of the problem is employment,” Fernandes said of illegal immigration. “If people can’t work, they either won’t come here or won’t stay here.”
Further provisions of the bill include those which:
*Require anybody submitting an affidavit of indigence to submit their social security number in order to verify their income eligibility which would be transmitted through the Department of Revenue
*Require that an applicant sign a statement certifying that there are no outstanding excise tax liabilities on the motor vehicle
*Require that the Registrar maintain a record of vehicles and trailers that are registered after satisfying the application requirements
* Require a report to the Legislature, as well as a cost estimate from EOPS, detailing the existing hurdles Massachusetts faces in connecting the various databases in order to effectively execute the license plate reader technology
*Require that the immigration status of anyone detained for DUI be ascertained within 48 hours of confinement