Gov. Mitt Romney, leaving office, has just taken a modest step to protect the people of Massachusetts.
Romney signed an agreement with the feds to empower 30 state troopers -- to be trained by the feds for five weeks -- to determine if arrested crime suspects are illegal aliens. If so, the troopers could hold them on immigration violations. Here is how it would work.
If an MS-13 gang member were arrested for assault and battery, and the victim was too terrified to testify against a Mara Salvatrucha member, the state troopers could hold the alleged assailant, call in immigration authorities and have him deported.
The troopers would also be empowered to arrest and hold illegal aliens leaving prison, to ensure their deportation by the feds.
Why any Bay Stater would oppose having his cops authorized to rid his state of illegal aliens implicated in crimes escapes me.
But never underestimate the suicidal bent of a Bay State liberal. Recall: This is the commonwealth whose governor used to grant weekend prison "furloughs" to the likes of Willie Horton.
Deval Patrick, the incoming Democratic governor, thinks Romney has a "bad idea" because state troopers have "enough to do."
But Romney's plan does not force troopers to do anything. It empowers them. And what is more important for police to do than assure that convicted felons, who do not belong in this country, do not return to Boston, or that criminal suspects and gang members are sent back where they came from, rather than set loose in Springfield?
What the Romney plan challenges is the "sanctuary" policy many cities have adopted under pressure from ethnic lobbies. Under New York's policy, backed by Rudy Giuliani, five illegal aliens, several with long rap sheets, were still in the city in 2002 and able to kidnap and gang-rape a woman for three hours in the shadow of Shea Stadium.
Nine states have adopted versions of the Romney plan, where state or local police can assist U.S. immigration authorities in dealing with criminals and criminal suspects who are in the country illegally.
Resistance to this common-sense idea reveals how ingrained is the ideological hostility to any idea that might halt the flow of illegals into our country. For open-borders champions, the real criminals are those who wish to secure the border or reduce immigration to preserve the country they grew up in.
Anger has also surfaced over the raids on six meatpacking plants of Swift & Co. Of the 7,250 workers at the plants, 1,271 -- nearly 18 percent -- are suspected illegal aliens.