April 2, 2017

On Beacon Hill: Snow and ICE as Baker springs into D.C. spotlight

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Sam Doran / State House News Service

Ways and Means vice chairperson Sen. Sal DiDomenico talked to assistant vice chairperson Rep. Elizabeth Malia about a strict countdown clock that would measure three minutes of testimony per person at last Friday's budget hearing. The hearing was the main opportunity for advocates and other members of the public to testify on the fiscal 2018 budget bill.

Recap and analysis of the week in state, and federal, government
from State House News Service

When will it be safe to go outside again?

There are plenty of good reasons to stay inside and lock the front door, and an early-spring snowstorm is not the worst excuse to pull the blinds and wait for warmer days.

But state Rep. Michelle DuBois was not worried about her constituents driving on unsafe roads last week when she suggested they might want to hunker down in their living rooms and wait for the ICE storm to pass.

DuBois, a Brockton Democrat, caused an uproar when she used Facebook to alert her community to a possible Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid targeting undocumented immigrants. The internet siren came a day after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said cities would have to prove their compliance with immigration requests to qualify for federal Justice Department grants and funding opportunities.

DuBois, a second-term lawmaker, acknowledged that the raids were just a rumor at the time, and there’s no evidence to suggest it happened. But she thought the public deserved to be aware of the possibility.

“Please be careful on Wednesday [March] 29. ICE will be in Brockton on that day. If you are undocumented don’t go out on the street. If there is a knock on the door of your house and you don’t know who it is, don’t open the door,” she posted, quoting information she said she received from a “friend in the Latin community.”

That such a step taken by an elected official, who is sworn to uphold the law, would turn a few heads is to be expected. But Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson poured gas on the fire when he mentioned the Facebook post in testimony to Congress, during which he also said elected officials in so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration police should be arrested.

Hodgson is no stranger to controversy or media attention, but in many respects this was a coming-out party for DuBois, and it didn’t take long before her story was the talk of Fox News.

DuBois apologized for nothing and said she’d do it again if given the chance, suggesting she may have actually done ICE a favor by telling the agency members, if they were planning a raid, that the word was already on the street.

That argument, however, didn’t wash with Hodgson, who told Congress Dubois had undermined law enforcement and called on her to step down from office.

— Matt Murphy

State House News Service / Courtesy Governor's Office

Gov. Charlie Baker, shown here swearing in Supreme Judicial Court associate justice Elspeth Cypher, was named to a federal panel on opioid abuse.

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