Immigrant advocates push bill at Statehouse rally

Updated:

BOSTON (AP) - Immigrant advocates are pressing lawmakers to back legislation they say will help reduce the level of deportations in Massachusetts.

Several dozen activists rallied on the steps of the Statehouse on Wednesday in favor of the bill, which would encourage local law enforcement agencies not to forward information to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on illegal immigrants who don't have serious criminal convictions.

Sen. James Eldridge is the bill's lead sponsor.

The Acton Democrat said the measure is a reaction to the federal Secure Communities program, which shares arrestee fingerprints with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Advocates say more than half of those deported under the program from Massachusetts had no criminal convictions.

The program went into effect in Massachusetts last year despite concerns raised by Gov. Deval Patrick and others.