BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Immigrant groups say many minority communities in Massachusetts mistrust their local police.
Advocates say about 1,100 people are deported from America every year.
They say immigrant communities often fear police officers because a friend or relative could be discovered and deported.
The Massachusetts Trust Act is meant to restore trust in law enforcement by keeping immigration issues out of the hands of local police and under the control of the federal government. The bill ensures all residents, regardless of their immigration status, can contact police without fear of deportation.
"When immigrants see that a traffic stop or an arrest from the local police results in their deportation and separation of their family, that creates a lot of distress," said Sarahi Uribe, Day Laborer Organizing Network Coordinator.
"People of Latin American origin are already the second largest segment of the inmate population in the U.S. penitentiary system and it's all related to immigration violation," Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities said.
The national "Secure Communities" program was implemented in Massachusetts last May. The program allows law enforcement to share fingerprints with a federal agency that can act on deportation proceedings.
Critics say most people who have been deported from Massachusetts have not been convicted of any crimes.