Massachusetts: Sheriff defends ‘Secure Communities,’ lashes out at governor

A battle is  brewing over “Secure Communities”, a program designed to battle illegal immigration, after Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says that sheriffs, like Plymouth County Sheriff Joe McDonald, are staging “a publicity stunt”.

The democratic governor’s comments came Tuesday on 96.9 WTKK’s series “Ask-The-Governor”, a day before a scheduled Wednesday press conference at the State House for  several Massachusetts sheriffs to highlight and announce plans for what Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald calls efforts to “enhance public safety.”

McDonald said of Patrick’s comments: “This is an argument that is disingenuous in the extreme and absurd on its face–It’s patently absurd.”

Sheriff McDonald defends his efforts, and says even if the governor tries to block them, they intend to go around the governor to institute the program. He says if there is a headline being created here, it’s not of the sheriffs’ making.

“The headline is that the governor is not doing his [job] and forcing the sheriff’s to act on their own. And so, if there is anyone creating a headline here, it’s the governor,” according to McDonald who spoke by phone on Tuesday night.

McDonald says the illegal immigrant population is large and getting bigger. This week, police say a suspect in Marshfield murder case may have been in the country illegally.

“I’m sorry that this is getting so much attention, but what’s going on right now–Actually, no. I shouldn’t say that. I am not sorry that it’s receiving the attention,” said McDonald. “It needs to receive the attention. We have had several high-profile cases, most recently the homicide in Marshfield. This is something that has been going on for quite sometime.”

McDonald says Immigration and Customs Enforcement has agreed to work with the state’s sheriffs to institute the Secure Communities program, a program he says is aimed at and designed to identify the most egregious, criminal aliens and deport them. But opponents say it encourages racial profiling.

Several Massachusetts sheriffs will visit the statehouse Wednesday morning for an 11 a.m. press conference, in which they are expected to also highlight their visit to Washington where they came to an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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About Steven Dodrill

Steven Dodrill left the WATD news team in 2013. "Follow" him on Twitter At Franklin Pierce, Steven worked to introduce new forms of media like YouTube, and Twitter to the Franklin Pierce community.  Steven graduated Cum Laude and with honors in Mass Communication from Franklin Pierce University in May of 2009. Steven focused his education and experience in New Hampshire around sports broadcasting, digital media, broadcast journalism, news, media production, and political reporting. "Like" him on Facebook Dodrill also interned with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League during the summer of 2007, and most recently in the spring of 2009 he completed an internship in the newsroom at WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH.