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Massachusetts Court Rules Local Authorities Can't Comply With Detention Requests From Federal Immigration Officials

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled on Monday that state and local law authorities cannot hold individuals in custody at the request of federal immigration officials.

The ruling undercuts the leverage of federal authorities to compel local police to honor civil detainers, the federal requests that officers hold individuals for an extra day or two. The decision by the state's Supreme Judicial Court marks the first time a state's high court has restricted the influence of civil detainers based on state laws.

The ruling is a legal blow to the Trump administration, which has clashed with sanctuary cities across the country over immigration enforcement. "Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with the federal government when it comes to immigration authorities to turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes, even MS-13 members," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in Philadelphia earlier this month. "These policies are often called sanctuary policies, but they are giving sanctuary not to law abiding citizens of our communities, they are providing sanctuary to criminals."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Boston said that the ruling "weakens local law enforcement agencies' ability to protect their communities." But research shows that it's actually local law enforcement's involvement in immigration issues that erodes community safety.