ICYMI: Anger Toward Secure Communities Deportation Program Reaches New Levels
Washington, DC – Criticism of the Obama Administration’s Secure Communities deportation program has reached a new apex, as elected officials and law enforcement leaders offer serious rebukes of the program and immigrant communities and newspaper editorial boards call for it to be scrapped altogether. Among the recent developments:
- Communities Say that “Secure Communities” Actually Creates Insecure Communities: Immigration advocates and community representatives from six major cities are engaged in a campaign of rallies and public hearings to expose the real public safety concerns about this deportation dragnet program. As the Associated Press reported on last evening’s Los Angeles hearing, “Immigrants who say they were hauled into jail for selling ice cream without a permit and for reporting being the victim of domestic violence had one message for a federal government task force assigned to review an information-sharing effort that gives immigration authorities access to the fingerprints of arrestees. End the program.” As Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), stated, “From the beginning, [Secure Communities] has been shrouded in lies and deception, and it is increasingly clear that its stated aim of targeting serious criminals was just a smokescreen for achieving record numbers of deportations for an enforcement-only approach.”
- The More Law Enforcement Learns, The Less They Like Secure Communities: The New York Times reported that Boston’s Police Commissioner Edward Davis “had been a Secure Communities supporter, because his records showed that it had removed many violent criminal immigrants from Boston jails. But he concluded from the new figures that immigration officials had misled him.” Said Commissioner Davis, “They specifically told us they would not be removing people with traffic offenses. They said they wouldn’t and now they have…This is a throwback to the bad old days of the federal agencies before 9/11, when we did not have cooperation. It is really disconcerting that they are not at all concerned about our precarious situation with immigrant communities.” Commissioner Davis’s comments echo those of many other law enforcement figures, who recognize the damage that Secure Communities does to effective community policing because it makes immigrant crime victims fearful of any contact with the police.
- Elected Officials Speak Out Against S-COMM – Then Have Their Hands Slapped: Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unilaterally cancelled its Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) on Secure Communities (S-COMM), an immigration enforcement program of the Obama administration that was sold to state governments as a way to identify and deport serious criminals. Over the past several months, Governor Patrick Quinn (IL), Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Governor Deval Patrick (MA) suspended their involvement with S-COMM, citing data that the program is deporting large numbers of non-criminals and destroying the relationship between police and the immigrant community that is needed to bring criminals to justice. However, just as states were making headlines for their opposition to the program, DHS announced it would unilaterally impose this controversial program on all jurisdictions with or without their consent.
- Editorials Slamming S-COMM and Obama Administration Leadership on Immigration: The New York Times editorialized over the weekend that the program fits in with “the Obama way on immigration. He talks softly of giving hard-working illegal immigrants a chance to get out of the shadows and get right with the law, but has achieved nothing, through legislation or executive action, that would allow that to happen. All the while, the administration has moved to ramp up deportations, expanding the brutal efficiency of a system that Mr. Obama has acknowledged is broken, arbitrary and unjust.” The Los Angeles Times took a similar tone in their editorial, writing, “The president has publicly called for an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system to give those who work hard but are illegally in the country a chance to remain here legally. Yet his administration has failed to curb a program that deports many of the very people he says deserve a chance to stay. The president’s leadership on immigration has been anemic. He can’t solve the problem alone, but he has done little beyond delivering speeches blaming Congress. At the very least, Obama should shelve Secure Communities and stop making matters worse.”
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And this from the RightsWorkingGroup:
August 16, 2011, Washington, D.C. – Today Rights Working Group along with other national and community-based organizations who came together as the National Community Advisory Commission released a substantive report condemning the Secure Communities program and calling for its termination.
The report by the Commission comes on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security’s [DHS] announcement earlier this month that Secure Communities is mandated to be implemented nationwide in 2013 and that joint agreements with state jurisdictions are being terminated.
The Commission was created last month because of concerns that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s [ICE] announced task force would not examine Secure Communities’ impact on racial profiling and concerns about police-community relations and safety raised by immigrant rights, human rights, civil rights and liberties groups. The concerns led to the creation of the National Community Advisory Commission, led by the National Day Labor Organizing Network, to provide information about issues of human rights, civil rights and liberties and safety that are being ignored by the DHS task force.
The formation of the commission led to the drafting of the National Community Advisory Commission’s report, led by the National Day Labor Organizing Network, to take into consideration issues of human rights, civil rights and liberties and safety that are being ignored by the DHS task force.
In addition to recommending that Secure Communities be ended, the authors of the report recommend: that the DHS Office of the Inspector General’s current audit of Secure Communities be completed, that the Department of Justice begin its own investigation into the mysterious role of the FBI in Secure Communities, and that states not be compelled to share biometric data with ICE.
The report includes testimony from former District Attorney of New York Robert Morgenthau, heads of law enforcement, and victims of Secure Communities, such as Isaura in Los Angeles whose 911 call for help resulted in her deportation proceedings.
In contrast to the DHS appointed taskforce, which has failed to enlist the voices of affected communities, scholars, or critics of Secure Communities, this report constitutes a real deliberative and representative review of the program.
The following statement can be attributed to the National Community Advisory Commission:
“This report confirms what immigrant communities have long known. The program called Secure Communities results in the opposite. Entangling local police in immigration enforcement is not just bad policy as the experts testify. Conscripting local police into immigration enforcement has provoked a massive civil rights crisis our country now faces. The only suitable approach is to end Secure Communities.”
“This Administration can no longer continue to stand by Secure Communities,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of the Rights Working Group, a member of the Commission. “By continuing to support this program they are sanctioning racial profiling, eroding the trust local law enforcement agencies have built with communities of color and showing the international community that our immigration system does not respect the basic human rights of all persons in our country.”
The report is available at www.rightsworkinggroup.org
The Commission includes: American Friends Service Committee, Project Voice New England, Asian Law Caucus, CASA de Maryland, CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Rights Working Group, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and We-Count!