Summer is coming to an end, but the fight to pass the Massachusetts Trust Act continues. For most of the past year, the Harvard Immigration Project (HIP) has had the privilege of membership in the coalition of organizations working to end local law enforcement compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, or “ICE holds.” Though the campaign did not succeed in persuading the Massachusetts General Court to adopt a statewide solution, it helped achieve tremendous successes at the local level, in the form of new policies adopted by several localities in Massachusetts, including the cities of Somerville and Cambridge and Hampden County, ending or limiting the use of ICE holds.
HIP students made important contributions to the Trust campaign. They conducted legal research and helped draft sign-on letters to policymakers and law enforcement officials on behalf of the Trust coalition; participated in call-in and write-in lobbying campaigns to state legislators and city councilors to encourage the adoption of Trust policies; and sat in on strategy meetings with coalition members and their legislative allies. More importantly, they will continue to play an important role in the campaign as it moves forward. The Boston City Council is currently considering its own Trust Ordinance, and HIP will assist in the coalition’s efforts to ensure that the measure that is ultimately adopted offers the broadest protections possible. And HIP will be there in 2015, when the statewide bill is reintroduced in the next legislative session of the General Court. We look forward to continuing to work with our community partners to keep up the fight against warrantless immigration detention here in Massachusetts!