Lawmakers and immigration reform activists are hopeful that a national reckoning on racial justice can generate enough momentum to secure passage this session on a bill divesting local police from most interactions with federal immigration enforcement.
For the third straight legislative session, a group of representatives and senators filed a proposal Tuesday (SD 532 and HD 1165) that would curtail the cooperation Massachusetts police and court officials have with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The bill sputtered out each of the previous sessions, but its sponsors said while unveiling the latest push that they believe support continues to grow amid other major developments both in Massachusetts and nationwide.
Massive protests against police violence and racial inequalities last year spurned action on police reform, while the raging COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness about the disproportionate obstacles that people of color face.
Rep. Liz Miranda, one of the bill's lead sponsors, said Tuesday that "all the dominoes are in order" to address the matter.
"I'm really hopeful as well that our colleagues will join us because of this moment that we're all trying to meet and the consciousness that I think has been raised particularly in the last six months," Miranda said. "Across this country, there hasn't been one group of folks that hasn't been moved by what's been happening nationally and locally."
Lawmakers said that last session's favorable report from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee may indicate that the Legislature is getting closer to consensus.
The bill has long had a core of supporters but it's never reached the floor of the House or Senate for a vote.