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Yesterday a friend drew my attention to news that the feds indicted Shelley Joseph of Newton, MA, for helping an immigrant escape ICE’s long arm. Her action and indictment make her a hero here in Massachusetts, which everyone recalls has a tradition, commemorated in the Boston Tea Party: no nothing without representation.

Now we read that former special ICE agent Jim Hayes wants to crow over Joseph’s body: this indictment sends “a message to other activist judges that immigration laws aren’t optional.” In other words, “we’ll indict you so we don’t have to deal with troublemakers like you again.” Hayes added a comment you could call ludicrous if it weren’t so hypocrtical: “People who serve in the criminal justice system have to have honesty and integrity in order for the system to work and for our system and our justice system to continue.”

I suppose that’s why they them special agents: it takes a special kind of stupid not to recognize you are a fool. Anyone from ICE who suggests Shelley Joseph is dishonest and corrupt because she helped someone escape from a lawless police state, does not recognize the damage ICE has already done to the cause of justice in our country. These are people who break up families as a matter of policy in order to deter families from coming to us for help. They ground this policy in made-up law, which is to say, “We’ll do whatever we want. ICE represents the state, so all our actions are legal.”

I’ll tell you something, more people than you may think regard the state as the clearest threat to law and justice in our country. If you want to suggest that a judge lacks integrity because she does not follow your rules – ICE policies and practices that are clearly illegal – you can do that. You merely increase other people’s contempt for you and your agency.

Massachusetts also has rules, practices, and policies. One of them is that federal agencies do not interfere with administration of justice in our state. Thanks and recognition to Shelley Joseph for reminding all of us: states have a lot more discretion in immigration matters than ICE thinks they do. That balance between state and federal authority in immigration has taken some time to develop. As the sanctuary movement illustrates, federal authority in immigration cases is not welcome in many places. It is certainly not welcome here in Massachusetts.


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Charges against Massachusetts judge shows ‘immigration laws aren’t optional:’ ICE agent

Mass. AG Maura Healey says indictments of Judge Shelley Joseph, court officer in ICE case is ‘radical and politically-motivated attack on our state’