Massachusetts immigration activists crash Statehouse press conference, face off with Bristol County sheriff

Publisher: 
MassLive.com
Author: 
Gintautas Dumcius
Publication Date: 
July 26, 2017

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled earlier this year that state law doesn’t support local officials complying with detainer requests from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Keep hate out of our state,” the activists chanted, repeatedly interrupting the lawmakers and the sheriff.

Rep. Jim Lyons, an Andover Republican who filed the bill in response to the court ruling, asked the activists stop interrupting the press conference, which was held in a Statehouse hallway. “Please, be respectful,” he said.

I am being respectful. But you’re not being respectful to the immigrant community,” said Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, an advocacy group. Montes led the three or four protesters who stood in the hallway as Lyons and the other lawmakers spoke to reporters and television cameramen.

Joining Lyons and Hodgson at the press conference were Republican state Reps. Geoff Diehl of Whitman, Marc Lombardo of Billerica, Shaunna O’Connell of Taunton, and Joseph McKenna of Webster.

Lyons said the bill gives authority to local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws and urged the Massachusetts Legislature to quickly pass his bill.

Lyons noted that Democratic legislative leaders rushed earlier this year to hand themselves a 55 percent increase in pay. Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed the pay raise, but Democratic lawmakers overrode the veto.

Every day that they refuse to address the underlying safety of our communities, they are putting our citizens at risk,” Lyons said.

As he took the podium, Hodgson got into a verbal scuffle with Montes, telling her he had a constitutional right to speak.

You’re criminalizing the immigrant community,” Montes said.

M’am, step back please,” Hodgson told her at another point during the press conference as she stood in front of one of the television cameras.

A court officer, who works for the Massachusetts House and arrived with two others to monitor the back-and-forth, tried to get her to move and asked, “Why are you interrupting him?”

Don’t yell at me,” she responded.

I think you’re yelling at us,” said Lyons, standing a few feet away by the podium.

 

 

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