The Boston City Council recently held a hearing about strengthening the Trust Act.
The Trust Act is a citywide ordinance that prevents Boston Police from detaining immigrants on the request of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
This week’s hearing comes after an incident in 2017 where Boston Police and ICE worked together to arrest Jose Martin Paz Flores. At the time, Flores was working for Tara Construction and broke his leg after a work injury. He was arrested by ICE after filing a workers’ compensation claim. Boston Police assisted with the arrest.
Police Commissioner William Gross said the police department acted accordingly.
“We did our job. We did nothing wrong,” he said at the hearing.
Councilor Lydia Edwards questioned why Boston Police helped coordinate the arrest and identify Flores. However, Gross insisted the department did nothing wrong.
“I don’t know why you keep asking this question,” said Gross.
Edwards added that she didn’t think the department violated the Trust Act, but said they might need a stronger ordinance if they want to separate the police from ICE.
“We want points of clarity too,” added Gross. “If we find someone and they have a warrant, we’re not supposed to look the other way, even if they have immigration issues. I don’t get it. I’m confused on that.”
Edwards believes Tara Construction may have been an abusive employer and wants to find ways to strengthen the ordinance to protect immigrant employers from that very thing. She thinks Tara Construction reported Flores because of workers’ compensation insurance when he was injured on the job.
“I feel they used you and they used the police department,” she said.
Councilor Josh Zakim, who called for the hearing, said he is proud that the council passed the Trust Act in 2014, but agreed the council may need to look into strengthening the act.
“2014 was a different time. It was before the election of President Trump,” he said during the hearing. “I want to examine ways we can make it stronger because things have changed over the last five years.”
Gross expressed support for the Trust Act.
“We are leaders in community policing,” he said. “We believe in the Trust Act.”
According to Gross, the police department honors and obeys the Trust Act; they follow state laws over federal immigration laws.