An Immigration Crackdown in Massachusetts?

A state known for its immigrant friendly policies is thinking about changing course.
by | June 11, 2010

The New York Times had an interesting story this week about how immigration politics are bubbling up in Massachusetts:

And while Arizona’s tough new immigration  policy seemed largely irrelevant here when it passed in April — both legislative chambers are controlled by Democrats who typically pay scant attention to the issue, and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News has derided Massachusetts as a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants — ripple effects hit almost immediately.

Five days after the Arizona measure became law, the Massachusetts House came close to passing a Republican proposal to block public benefits for illegal immigrants. A similar bill failed overwhelmingly just a year earlier. But supporters said the Arizona law — and pockets of anger here over the case of President Obama’s Kenyan aunt, who had been living in public housing in Boston while fighting a deportation order — turned the tide.

“It’s all part of the same stew we’re in,” said Representative Denise Provost, a Democrat from Somerville who said her office was inundated with hostile calls after she voted against the crackdown in April. “It’s partly Arizona, partly the economy, partly radio show hosts being obsessed with these issues.”

The Times reported that Gov. Deval Patrick hasn't said whether he would sign the legislation, although he sounds skeptical. Both Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill are trying to stake out ground as immigration enforcers, which likely creates a political rationale for Patrick to oppose the bill. Even if the mood has changed in Massachusetts, it probably hasn't changed enough for it to be in the interest of all three candidates to be fighting to be toughest on immigration.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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