Sina-cism: DACA’s demise clears way for real reform

The world in 2017 is too populous, complex and dangerous a place to simply admit anyone who claims to share our ideals. There are rules to be followed.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program is not about cruelty. It’s not about sending the “best and brightest” back to countries where they have no ties of family, culture, or language. It’s not about damaging the economy.

The end of DACA — which will be done as an orderly, six-month phase-out — is about respecting the rule of law and forcing Congress to do its job.

In 2012, President Obama, frustrated by Congress’ failure to adequately address the fate of millions of illegal aliens, issued an executive order creating DACA. The program encouraged those with no legal claim to be in the United States to come out of the shadows and apply for a work permit and a two-year (renewable) period during which they could not be deported.

Many, including myself, warned then that DACA was a bad idea. By circumventing Congress, Obama was giving hope to millions, but without conferring any of the rights citizens enjoy. By encouraging illegals to come forward, the government was gaining key information that could come back to haunt those very people should there be a change in policy.

Related Sina-cism: The real line on immigration, and how Obama crossed it

Some say that haunting has now begun.

QCC’s Pedraja among college leaders defending DACA

Public community college officials in Massachusetts are taking a stand in support of a five-year-old immigration program put in place by President Barack Obama put on the chopping block Tuesday by President Donald Trump.

Obama signed an executive order in June 2012 and the Department of Homeland Security subsequently began accepting applications for “deferred action” from immigrants who met certain criteria, such as being brought to the country before they turned 16. Under the program, known as DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], qualifying immigrants — often described as “dreamers” — are protected from deportation for at least two years, and become eligible to apply for a work permit.

In a joint statement with the Boston Public Schools issued on Sunday, the 15 public community college presidents in Massachusetts said they are committed to educating all who pass through their doors.

Niki Tsongas

On Beacon Hill: Something to talk about

National Conference of State Legislatures

Sam Doran/State House News Service

The House Chamber was packed on Monday with legislative clerks from around the world who visited Boston for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Participating in a mock parliamentary session, from left, were Nigerian legislative officer Ramatu Ahmad, Ladi Hamalai of Nigeria’s Institute for Legislative Studies, and Aisha Mohammed of Nigeria’s House of Representatives.


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

The summer of 2007 in the Merrimack Valley was a time for backyard “PicNikis” and evening gatherings to get the latest “Tscoop On Tsongas” over a cone of your favorite flavor.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas was mounting her first campaign for public office to succeed Marty Meehan — now the president of the University of Massachusetts system — in Congress, and the heat was on. Anything to get a crowd.

Fast-forward 10 years, and Tsongas found a different way to break the August monotony, announcing Wednesday that she would not be seeking a seventh full term to the U.S. House of Representatives. Just like that, Tsongas plugged the void of late summer on Beacon Hill, giving its denizens something to wag their tongues about.

Many state legislators spent the week shuttling between the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the city’s varied landmarks, playing policy wonks by day and hosts with the most by night.

Legislative leaders wined and dined 6,000 of their colleagues from around the country at places like Fenway Park, the New England Aquarium and more as the National Conference of State Legislatures swept in and out of the city, leaving solid policy ideas, first impressions of Boston, and bar tabs in its wake.

But it was Tsongas — and more intriguingly, who might succeed her — that was the talk of the town.

Niki Tsongas

Niki Tsongas

Tsongas, in some ways, rode her famous last name to the halls of Capitol Hill. Her late husband, Paul Tsongas, held the same seat before being elected to the Senate and making a failed run for president in 1992.

But over the past decade, she made a name for herself. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Tsongas became a champion for veterans and, based on the accolades that poured in, a devotee to constituent services.

Given the rarity of open Congressional seats in Massachusetts, it would be political malfeasance for anyone who has ever harbored any ambition to go to Washington, D.C., to not at least think about what it would take to win the Tsongas seat next year. That’s probably why one needs more than two hands to count the number of elected, non-elected and former elected officials said to be weighing their options.

The list starts with the cast of characters who finished behind Tsongas in the 2007 special election Democratic primary. Sen. Eileen Donoghue, who finished second in that primary, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge and former Sen. Barry Finegold all said they are considering another run at the seat.

Massachusetts Sen. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, also came in hot, quickly announcing that she was “eagerly exploring” the possibility of a campaign, and has been joined by 2014 lieutenant governor nominee Stephen Kerrigan; Meehan’s ex-wife and community hospital consultant Ellen Murphy Meehan; and City Hall “Boy Wonder” Dan Koh, chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, whose well-known family hails from Andover.

The Third Congressional District, thanks in part to redistricting, will surely not be a solely Democratic affair, however. Republicans weighing a run, or looked to as possible candidates, include Mass Fiscal Alliance founder Rick Green, Sal’s Pizza founder Sal Lupoli and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

Central Mass. cities and towns in the Third Congressional District include  Ashburnham, Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Harvard, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Westminster and parts of Winchendon. Also, Ashby, Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Shirley, Stow and Townsend.

It’s hard to say how quickly the field might come together, given the ample time Tsongas has afforded her would-be successors, but many of the elected politicians and someone like Koh will have to weigh a shot at a Congressional seat against giving up the office or job they now hold.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

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  • Safety, profiling concerns swirl over immigrant detainer bill

Worcester Sun, Aug. 13-19: Mariano on the battle for District 4, an artist’s ritual, solving the Alzheimer’s puzzle + more

Sun columnist
Mariano: Gaffney vs. Rivera — the battle for District 4

Get your lawn chairs out and bring the popcorn. This campaign could be a real barnburner. More Mariano on Worcester politics:

Breaking down candidates in District 1 | District 5
Why no one wants to run for public office

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 188]: Beetles, barely — and other rare Worcester species

News came earlier this month that the once pervasive Asian longhorned beetle has all but disappeared from the Burncoat-area neighborhoods they once ravaged.

Baker response to SJC’s ICE detainer ruling decried by ACLU, immigrant group

BOSTON — A push from the Baker administration to respond to a Supreme Judicial Court ruling and reinstate a policy allowing state and local police to cooperate, on a limited basis, with federal immigration detainer requests met stiff resistance from civil liberties activists who questioned the constitutionality of the governor’s actions.

As foreshadowed last week, Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation Tuesday that would allow state and local police to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for individuals already in state custody on criminal charges or for sentences related to past violent crimes.

The proposal from the Baker administration comes a week after the state’s highest court ruled state law did not allow for law enforcement in Massachusetts to hold defendants at the request of the federal government for immigration violations if they had no other reason to keep the person in custody.

The bill was immediately chastised by ACLU of Massachusetts as “constitutionality suspect because it attempts to authorize state and local law enforcement to detain people without due process.”

Editorial: On immigration, Republicans become party of big government

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday that police officers do not have the authority to detain immigrants solely at the request of federal immigration officials.

“In the case of Commonwealth v. Sreynuon Lunn, the court concluded that ‘nothing in the statutes or common law of Massachusetts authorizes court officers to make a civil arrest in these circumstances,’ ” State House News Service reported.

The facts are straightforward: “After the sole pending criminal charge against him was dismissed, the petitioner, Sreynuon Lunn, was held by Massachusetts court officers in a holding cell at the Boston Municipal Court at the request of a Federal immigration officer, pursuant to a Federal civil immigration detainer,” the SJC decision states.

“Immigration detainers like the one used in this case, for the purpose of that process, are therefore strictly civil in nature,” the opinion continues. “The removal process is not a criminal prosecution. The detainers are not criminal detainers or criminal arrest warrants. They do not charge anyone with a crime, indicate that anyone has been charged with a crime, or ask that anyone be detained in order that he or she can be prosecuted for a crime.”

On Beacon Hill: In Baker the House trusts?

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

BOSTON — House Speaker Robert DeLeo sent Gov. Charlie Baker a clear, if not slightly unconventional, message this week about the state’s ballooning Medicaid program and the governor’s somewhat unpopular plan to tax employers to pay for it:

You want it? You own it.

The $40.3 billion House budget plan released this week by Rep. Brian Dempsey and his Ways and Means Committee essentially punted the issue of an employer assessment to help pay for MassHealth back to the Republican administration.

The draft budget greenlights the Department of Revenue and its commissioner, former Republican state treasurer candidate Michael Heffernan, to develop and implement an assessment on employers that don’t provide health coverage to most of their employees at any level it deems fit.

Dempsey did say the state only needs about two-thirds, or $180 million, of the money originally targeted by Baker from his $2,000-per-worker assessment, but there’s nothing to stop Baker from going for the whole pie. The only stipulation from House leaders is that the administration consider some of the critiques made by businesses over the past few months.

Sam Doran / State House News Service

House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey.

That’s not to say the plan absolves House Democrats who vote for the budget of any responsibility should the debate over the assessment turn sour. Those who vote for this budget will, in essence, be writing Gov. Baker a blank check and accepting anything that comes after.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s overtly diplomatic response also seemed to belie some apprehension with the House approach of deferring to Baker. “Everyone approaches things in their own way,” he said.

Dempsey said he believes the administration has been talking in good faith with the business community about how to refine the proposal, and is confident that a compromise can be found.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

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  • Moore trumpets campus safety; McGovern tweaks president
  • State senators plans Capitol Hill lobbying effort
  • Video: Polito talks revenue projections, potential cuts
  • MassDevelopment chief voted out by board