Lawmakers hold hearing on immigrant 'sanctuary state' bill

BOSTON (AP) — State lawmakers are hearing testimony Friday on a proposal that would make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

The Safe Communities Act is meant to limit interaction between local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Among other things, the bill would prevent law enforcement and court personnel from asking a person about their immigration status and set limits for when they could notify ICE of someone’s impending release from custody.

It would also end the so-called “287g agreements” that allow local jails and prisons to house federal immigration detainees.

Immigrant rights groups and other supporters are rallying in the State House Friday morning ahead of the hearing.

They say dozens of immigrants, business leaders, health care and social service providers, legal experts and faith leaders plan to testify before lawmakers.

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition says the goal of the bill is to “restore community trust” at a time when some immigrants “avoid calling 911, going to the hospital, or seeking police or court protection” out of fear they might be reported to ICE.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he's opposed to a statewide “sanctuary” law and would likely veto the measure if it passed the legislature.