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"Educating our communities and elected officials about the needs of survivors in our local cities and towns requires year round focus. JDI is our pathway to informing and influencing the state and national agenda to end sexual and domestic violence." ~ Karen Cavanaugh, JDI board member and Executive Director of Womanshelter/Companeras, pictured here with a JDI delegation meeting with Congressman Niki Tsongas

Lawmaker explains immigration remarks

A freshman state lawmaker defended yesterday statements he made earlier in the week that suggested that illegal immigrants who are raped should be afraid to contact police, saying that his remarks were “misportrayed’’ in a newspaper article.

Asked if he felt rape victims living in Massachusetts illegally would be afraid to report the crime if the state endorsed a controversial federal immigration policy, state Representative Ryan C. Fattman, a Sutton Republican, said, “My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward,’’ according to an account published Wednesday in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

In a statement yesterday, Fattman said that in response to hypothetical scenarios posed by a reporter about immigration, “I responded that I was not concerned with hypothetical situations, but rather real-life situations affecting people who properly obtain their immigration status. . I do and always will feel compassion towards victims of violent crimes.

“I believe that a victim of any crime should not be afraid to come forward to law enforcement officials.’’

Fattman, 26, came under fire yesterday from advocates for immigrants and sexual assault victims.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said in a statement that Fattman’s comments were “the latest ugly illustration of how the immigration debate has sunk to a new low’’ and were “an insult to basic human dignity.’’

In the same statement, Mary Lauby, executive director of Boston-based Jane Doe Inc., said Fattman “owes all victims of sexual violence … a thorough and sincere apology.’’

Fattman said he supports the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, a resource center for victims. He said in e-mail that all survivors of rape are entitled to the services of victim advocates, regardless of their immigration status.

Fattman gave the interview to the Telegram & Gazette after Governor Deval Patrick said on Monday that he would not endorse the federal Secure Communities program, an initiative slated for nationwide implementation in 2013 in which fingerprints of every person arrested will be sent to the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Suspects living in the United States illegally will face possible deportation under the program. Patrick and other critics of the initiative say it may encourage ethnic profiling and discourage immigrants from reporting crime, among other pitfalls.

An official with the US Department of Homeland Security told the Globe Monday that Patrick’s refusal to sign on to the program will do little to forestall its expansion in the state in 2013.


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