Metro, Boston

BPD Communicates with ICE, WBUR Report Finds

The Boston Police Department (BPD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have communication about immigration statuses and criminal offenses, according to documents that WBUR obtained. The Boston Trust Act, a city ordinance which states that Boston officials may in no way act as federal agents for matters of immigration, was proposed by city councilor Josh Zakim in June of 2014. 

The BPD has an official ICE liaison, Boston Police Sergeant Detective Gregory Gallagher, who has worked to inform ICE about arrests and people who may be of interest, according to the WBUR reporting. 

Gallagher was removed from his post on Friday after the WBUR report came out but is still employed by the BPD, according to a spokesperson from the BPD.

One email from an ICE agent to Gallagher requests reports and the parental information of a woman who he believed to be an F-1 Student Overstay. Gallagher replied with the parents’ names. WBUR reported that he has fielded confirmation requests from federal agents from other states.

In another email from February of 2019, BPD officer Juan Jose Seoane asks Gallagher to check the residence and status of someone who wanted to “join team America.” Seoane said he suspected that the man was part of a scam with his documents. Gallagher replied, saying that ICE had checked it out and the man’s information was legitimate. 

Boston College Chief of Police William Evans signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014, when he was the Boston Police Commissioner. It says that the BPD and ICE agree that “close cooperation and coordination” is “required” between them in order to comply with the U.S. code for the enforcement authority of customs officers. 

It states that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is not giving the BPD the authority to “enforce administrative violations of immigration law,” but it may determine that there are times during which it would be beneficial to have BPD officers carry out some HSI duties. The agreement called for the creation of a Task Force Officer and the designation of some BPD officers as Customs officers, for which they would receive extra pay.

Evans declined to comment for this article.

In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in Lunn v. Commonwealth that local officials cannot hold or arrest people solely on the basis of an immigration detainer. 

The Trust Act has been reevaluated in the past year, as the BPD was accused in a lawsuit of colluding with ICE in the case of Jose Medina Paz-Flores, who was detained by ICE after submitting a worker’s compensation claim following an injury at work, according to The Boston Globe

The suit alleges that Flores’ employer contacted his friend, a detective for BPD, who told Gallagher that about Flores. When Paz-Flores went in to meet his boss who said he would give him money, ICE agents were waiting to arrest him. 

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh filed an ordinance to amend the Trust Act in June and clarify the role of BPD officers. It was debated in September but has not been put into effect. 

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Staff

October 27, 2019

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