Boston PD Is Helping ICE Track Down The City's Least Dangerous Immigrants
from the quantity-over-quality dept
It’s good to see ICE is still working hard to round up all these “bad hombres.” Instructed by the President to round up the hordes of undocumented criminals — each one more dangerous than the last — ICE and its parent agency (DHS) have struggled a bit to live up to Donald Trump’s imagination.
We were supposed to be overrun with rapists, murderers, and RICOists because President Barack “Thanks” Obama loved illegal immigrants more than he loved Americans, possibly due to his non-citizenship. But as ICE and DHS have come to realize, immigrants aren’t any more dangerous than natural citizens. In fact, they’re less dangerous than the average American, which makes it pretty difficult to focus only on the “worst of the worst.”
So, ICE has expanded its targeting. It has expanded this targeting as it has expanded its surveillance capabilities. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the US are willing to be ICE’s posse, helping it bypass federal restrictions and feeding the agency whatever information local cops think might be useful.
Boston radio station WBUR recently obtained hundreds of pages of emails from the Boston PD as the result of a public records request. The released documents show the PD is assisting ICE in its important work of ridding the city of dangerous… misdemeanants.
There is a regular pattern of communication between Boston police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that includes emails regarding arrests for low-level offenses like trespassing and shoplifting, according to documents obtained by WBUR.
In emails reviewed by WBUR, Boston police and federal immigration officials regularly offer information back and forth between the agencies. Often, the agencies are comparing arrest records of individuals accused of non-felony violations — like operating a vehicle without a license and shoplifting — to see if they have potential civil immigration violations, and vice versa.
I guess this works out for the Boston PD. It frees up its officers to tackle serious crimes and actually dangerous criminals. I mean, theoretically. This information-sharing doesn’t appear to be linked to any uptick in enforcement or case clearance rates.
It also works out for ICE, which is willing to settle for apprehending mildly-disruptive hombres in lieu of bad ones. Since no one up top is paying too much attention to the quality of ICE apprehensions, anything that increases the quantity of apprehensions is welcome.
This runs contrary to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s declaration that city law enforcement would not assist ICE in anything but actually rounding up the “worst of the worst.” Cooperation was supposed to be limited to violent crimes and suspected felons.
Maybe the rest of the police force is complying with Mayor Walsh’s wishes. But one officer definitely isn’t. The documents obtained by WBUR show a single officer — Police Sergeant Detective Gregory Gallagher — is handling almost all of ICE’s requests for information. When not acting as a single source provider for immigrant info, Detective Gallagher is also offering to cover shifts for DHS special agents.
Detective Gallagher’s work makes a certain amount of sense considering he’s the PD’s point man for the department’s own immigration enforcement efforts. And it makes sense more broadly since local law enforcement agencies have been authorized to “perform the full range of law enforcement duties of a Customs Officer” on behalf of ICE since 2014.
But what doesn’t make sense is this officer’s insistence on acting as an ICE liaison to hunt down shoplifters and unlicensed drivers when ICE isn’t supposed to be focusing on these non-threats to national security/public safety. It also doesn’t make sense when the mayor has specifically instructed the city’s police force to provide assistance only in the most severe cases.
The response to this report by the city’s top cop isn’t necessarily reassuring.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross told WBUR Thursday that his officers are focused on violent crimes and drugs, not a person’s immigration status.
That’s great and all, but someone inside the department is very much focused on immigration status. While the rest of the PD may be busying itself with actual police work, one detective has transformed himself into ICE’s top lackey — one with access to records and databases ICE possibly can’t access legally on its own.
Even if everything about this was completely above-board, it would still be problematic. ICE has limited resources but it’s using them to hunt down scofflaws, not dangerous criminals. It has a shortage of manpower, but still feels compelled to busy itself with low-level offenses committed by people who pose no threat to anything but the administration’s bullshit-shoveling.