February 15, 2011

Patrick to hold hearings on fingerprints plans

By John J. Monahan TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
jmonahan@telegram.com

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick said yesterday he will hold public hearings before joining a federal program that would have local police share with federal authorities the fingerprints of all people arrested to check their immigration status.

The governor said last month that he planned to have the state join the federal Secure Communities program, as dozens of other states and cities have done in the last three years. Federal authorities could use the information collected to launch deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants arrested by local police.

But after meeting with immigrant advocates protesting the plan today, Mr. Patrick said he has concerns about having local police enforce immigration laws, and said he would listen to public concerns about the program before signing agreements with the Department of Homeland Security.

About 15 immigrant advocates protested the plan outside the governor’s office inside the Statehouse for several hours today, chanting slogans critical of the program and demanding to meet with the governor to talk about their complaints.

Mr. Patrick met with several representatives of the group, and said later he has questions about whether the state is required to join the program and whether it is a good use of local police.

“We had a good conversation,