Sheriffs from three Massachusetts counties pledged Wednesday to launch a tougher crackdown on illegal immigrants, comparing them to "terrorists" and saying the state has become a "magnet" for them, the Boston Herald reports.
The sheriffs of Bristol, Worcester and Plymouth counties announced at a State House news conference that they planned to implement the federal Secure Communities program in their counties, which is designed to immediately check the immigration status of those arrested for crimes.
"Much like terrorists, they’re looking for a place to go where nobody’s going to notice them," Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said. “And if we’re sending out a message that this is where you can basically come and we’re not really going to pay much attention to your status, well, it’s no wonder we’re running into the kinds of problems we are.”
The tough talk was met with protests and heckling from those who criticize such programs as profiling, including members of the immigrant-rights group Centro Presente, according to the newspaper. The news conference ended abruptly after immigration activists entered the room to protest.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who opposes the Secure Communities program, reportedly called the sheriffs' efforts a "publicity stunt."
Patrick has said the state will not sign an agreement for the state to participate in the program, which the federal government plans to implement on its own nationwide by the end of 2013.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.