Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins wrong on blocking ICE from courthouses

I have many questions about “the Rachael Rollins Policy Memo” of the new district attorney of Suffolk County. And the biggest is: Why does she have such a problem with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) grabbing criminal illegal aliens at the courthouses?

Here’s the thing: if the fentanyl dealer or rapist or MS-13 gangbanger is inside the courthouse, he’s gone through the metal detector at the entrance. Chances are good, he’s not armed. So the odds of anybody getting hurt when he’s lugged by ICE are greatly reduced, right?

I asked Rollins to come on my radio show and explain her new policies. I give her credit for agreeing to speak in public, but she didn’t convince me.

“If ICE wants to deport them in their homes, or a mile down the street, or in the basement of the Suffolk County courthouse,” she said, that’s their right, “but can they please not do it in the public parts of my courthouses because it’s chilling.”

Chilling? As opposed to, say, tailing the criminal illegal back to some crowded neighborhood in East Boston or Chelsea? Do you think the odds are greater or lesser that there might be, say, a shootout, if they’re allowed to get back to their cars, or their stash houses?

“Follow them a quarter mile away,” Rollins said, “just not in the public places, where I do my business.”

A few hours after I talked to the district attorney, there was a big shootout in Manchester NH after a drug deal gone bad. Some thugs barricaded themselves in a hotel room. One of the hoods opened fire on the cops and was killed. The hotel had to be evacuated. The whole neighborhood was shut down for hours.

I’m guessing that if it had been possible, the cops and the DEA agents would have much preferred to grab the bad guys in a “gun-free zone,” i.e., a courthouse.

It’s disconcerting how easy it is to talk to Rollins, how reasonable she sounds, but so much of what she says makes absolutely no sense. It’s there on page 30 where her employees are instructed to “immediately notify me” if you see an ICE agent at the courthouse.

The Mass. Trial Court already has rules. When they arrive at a courthouse, ICE agents have to notify the chief of security where they are going, how many of them are involved, and give the name of the bad hombre they are grabbing. Even if the ICE agents tried to sneak in, how would they get their firearms and handcuffs through the metal detectors?

On that same page, Rollins writes that “our office will begin to factor into all charging and sentencing decisions the potential of immigration consequences.”

As if they haven’t been doing that already, with horrific consequences. I mentioned to her the case of the homeless African who robbed two banks in downtown Boston, but was only given seven months in the House of Correction, so that he wouldn’t be deported. This happened before she was elected. The African gets out and almost immediately slits the throats of two anesthesiologists (immigrants themselves) in Andrew Square.

So those were some real-life “immigration consequences,” am I right, Ms. Rollins?

“I understand that, it was a horrific situation,” she said. “If you shoot or rape or kill somebody, and you’ve served your sentence, I should absolutely deport you… I have no problem saying, you’re out of here.”

But how about instead we say, you’re out of here before the criminal illegal ends up shooting, raping, or killing somebody. Or dealing them a fatal dose of fentanyl, for that matter, although she didn’t mention that particular crime, which according to the BPD is overwhelmingly controlled by illegal Dominicans.

Rollins argues that her office has “prosecutorial discretion” (as if we didn’t know). But if you put it all down in 65 pages of print, everything is pretty much codified. You don’t have nearly as much discretion.

Consider shoplifting, for instance. Sticky fingers will be tolerated, henceforth, as long as the five-finger discount is taken by someone in “poverty.”

So I asked Rollins to define poverty.

“In order to get a public defender,” she said, “you have to be considered indigent, so we have already defined poverty.”

Michael Avenatti was represented by a public defender Monday night. He’s allowed to shoplift now in Suffolk County? Whitey Bulger had a whole team of public defenders. In other words, being indigent is an evolving paradigm, to coin a phrase.

Shoplifting is also permissible if the item “is taken out of necessity (e.g. food, diapers, child-care-related items, etc.).”

But, the d.a. insisted, “We are going to immediately try to get the item back.”

You’re going to try to get the diapers back? I’m sure the merchants will appreciate that.

“I get it,” she finally said, “this sounds like a kumbaya moment.”

Uh, yes, it does. I just hope that as time goes on, we’ll be seeing a lot more prosecuting, and a lot less discretion.

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