To the editor:

A colleague of mine recently told me of a Republican-aligned group that put out robocalls saying he was a supporter of a bill allowing “illegal immigrants” moving ahead of military veterans for public housing. Predictably, he faced a backlash from constituents, including a close family member.

Truth was, the claim was patently false, and ironically this representative is a staunch supporter of our veterans with a distinguished military career of his own. None of his constituents that criticized him ever checked the veracity of the group’s claim. Being in elected office brings with it the need to take criticism, fair or unfair. But sometimes it needs to be addressed, and for me that time is now. The Massachusetts Republican Party has launched a series of misleading posts on its Facebook page, the latest claiming that I and many of my colleagues are supporting legislation to make Massachusetts a so-called sanctuary state. The posting also asks to sign a petition and displays a donation option to send money to support the party.

At the outset there are problems with the post, as there is no “sanctuary state” legislation. Some further perspective would be helpful here to make clear my position, as I’m sure this will not be the Republican Party’s last attempt to sway voters with untruths. Last session, a bill was filed to mandate local and state police duties as they pertained to immigration and enforcement of federal law. I was asked to co-sponsor this bill, which I declined as I felt it restricted efficient local police operations. This term, House bill 3573 has been filed, which codifies much of what police departments are already doing and which has provisions police chiefs across the state are supporting.

In summary, H3573 prohibits “287g agreements,” which would deputize local police from enforcing immigration law, keeping us in line with every New England state. It would implement the existing Massachusetts State Police policy of not inquiring of a person’s immigration status unless required by law. An undocumented immigrant would be allowed an attorney at their own expense and legal forms would be provided in multiple languages. Lastly, guidelines would be put in place regarding when a release from custody is reportable and data collection would be done. These provisions are the very definition of community policing and due process.

As a state representative, I have been proud of my bipartisan approach to legislating and have successfully worked across the aisle in passing bills. Over the past few days some of my Republican colleagues have personally reached out to me offering apologies and used words like dismayed and disgusted to describe the state Republican Party’s Facebook posts and the comments that followed. I am grateful for their support and friendship.

I ask that my constituents stay informed, and reach out to me at Paul.Tucker@MAHouse.gov or (617) 722-2070 to have a conversation grounded in facts. I welcome suggestions and criticism, but it’s most unfortunate when time that we can spend on the big issues of the day like criminal justice and education reform is swallowed up defending against baseless posts from individuals and groups with a malicious intent and a keyboard.

Paul Tucker

State Representative

Salem