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OVER 80 CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON FBI TO END FACILITATION OF ICE’S “SECURE COMMUNITIES” DEPORTATION PROGRAM (PR)
For Immediate Release
March 8, 2012
B. Loewe, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), (773) 791-4668; [email protected]
Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, 212-614-6449, [email protected]
Sonia Lin, Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic, 212-790-0213, [email protected]
OVER 80 CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON FBI TO END FACILITATION OF ICE’S “SECURE COMMUNITIES” DEPORTATION PROGRAM
Groups Demand FBI Address Concerns from Governors and Other High Level State and Local Officials that Program Undermines Public Safety
Today, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and over 80 other civil and immigrant rights organizations sent a letter to the FBI demanding that it end its facilitation of ICE’s Secure Communities deportation program (S-Comm).
The letter charges that S-Comm threatens public safety, encourages racial profiling and undermines community policing by turning local police departments into gateways to deportation. Under S-Comm, the FBI takes all fingerprints submitted by local police for criminal background checks and automatically forwards the prints to federal immigration officials, regardless of whether individual has been convicted of a crime or of the severity of the charge.
Last summer, the governors of New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts requested that S-Comm be delayed or deactivated in their states. The FBI, as the agency that manages the federal criminal fingerprint database, has the ability to grant the Governors’ request, but thus far has not provided an official response.
Today’s letter calls upon the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board to recommend that the FBI not forward fingerprints to S-Comm without the consent of local and state officials. The Committee will consider requests from the public at its biannual meeting this summer.
Jessica Karp, Staff Attorney for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said, “The FBI represents itself as a partner to state and local agencies. True partnership requires that the FBI address the serious concerns raised by state and local officials who have been forced to participate in ICE’s Secure Communities deportation program without their consent and despite serious risks to public safety.”
Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “the FBI has deliberately veiled its involvement in Secure Communities to avoid public scrutiny. Now we ask that the agency to be held accountable by its stakeholders and the numerous communities around the country that simply ask for this law enforcement program—the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement efforts—to be voluntary.”
Sonia Lin, Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, said, “The DOJ’s recent findings of discriminatory policing in places like Maricopa AZ and East Haven CT make it even more important for the FBI to limit its involvement in S-Comm.”
The letter is available at this link:
The proposal that the groups are submitting for the FBI advisory panel’s consideration is here:
For more information:
New Documents Reveal Behind-the-Scenes FBI Role in Controversial Secure Communities Deportation Program, at http://uncoverthetruth.org/featured/new-documents-reveal-behind-the-scenes-fbi-role-in-controversial-secure-communities-deportation-program-pr/
RESTORING COMMUNITY: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed “Secure Communities” Program, at http://altopolimigra.com/s-comm-shadow-report/
The fishing industry in New Bedford has always attracted sailors and workers from Europe, West Africa and beyond. The city is home to one of the largest Portuguese communities in the United States. But in recent years, more and more Spanish speakers are arriving from Central America. Will Coley reports on how New Bedford’s police are trying to adapt to the change.
Press Release: New Documents Show Secure Communities Fuels FBI’s Rapidly Expanding Surveillance System While Ignoring States’ Concerns
B. Loewe, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, 773-791-4668
Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, 212-614-6449, [email protected]
Sonia Lin, Cardozo School of Law Immigration Justice Clinic, 212-790-0213, [email protected]
New Documents Show Secure Communities Fuels FBI’s Rapidly Expanding Surveillance System While Ignoring States’ Concerns
New Documents on Secure Communities and the FBI’s Next Generation Identification System Show ICE and the FBI Riding Roughshod Over Local Law Enforcement Agencies
November 10, 2011, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), and the Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic released internal government documents concerning the controversial Secure Communities program (S-Comm), newly obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Advocates say the documents show that S-Comm, already beleaguered with calls for termination, caused serious internal debate within the FBI at the same time that it served as pretext for the agency to rapidly expand its Next Generation Identification (NGI) initiative, which seeks to collect and distribute massive amounts of biometric information on citizens and noncitizens alike. An annotated index to the documents is available here.
The new documents reveal that FBI Assistant Director Jerome Pender expressed doubts about S-Comm’s effect on the FBI’s relationship with states and localities, and described the FBI’s position in the S-Comm controversy as “being stuck in the middle of a nuclear war.” Pender wrote: “I don’t see how we can use [fingerprint] data in a way the owner explicitly bans. This could cause the whole CJIS model [of information sharing between the FBI and states and localities] to implode.” (Email chain between Deputy Assistant Director of CJIS’s Operations Branch, Jerome Pender, CJIS Assistant Director, Daniel Roberts, Deputy Assistant Director, Stephen Morris, and other FBI officials, May 10, 2011, FBI-SC-FPL-00487-488).
However, the FBI continued to ignore state and local partners’ demands to limit the use of their data and instead continued to press for S-Comm to be mandatory and expanded data sharing to other domestic agencies and foreign governments.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Sunita Patel, “It is now crystal clear that the FBI is using Secure Communities to experiment on biometric-based surveillance. In pushing for S-Comm and interoperability to be mandatory, the FBI has prioritized collecting personal biometric data on citizens and non-citizens alike for its massive database ahead of the interests of its state and local partners. This is bad policy and no way to operate a federal agency.”
According to the documents, the FBI “recognizes a need to collect as much biometric data as possible . . . and to make this information accessible to all levels of law enforcement, including International agencies.” Accordingly, it “continues to work aggressively to build biometric databases that are comprehensive and international in scope.” (Interoperability Initiatives Unit, FBI CJIS, December 2010, SC-FBI-FPL-1143-1159, at 1143.)
Said Jessica Karp of NDLON, “The rise of the FBI’s surveillance system places all of our civil rights at risk. As Secure Communities breaks apart the sacred bond of immigrant families, NGI undermines the basic rights we hold as sacred in a democracy. It’s clear that the FBI and ICE’s pursuit of massive personal biometric data collection as a goal in itself tramples on the rights of individuals and states. Secure Communities needs to be ended before more are trapped in its dragnet.”
Said Sonia Lin of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Cardozo School of Law, “In its support for mandatory S-Comm and push to expand NGI, the FBI has ignored serious concerns about community policing, the burden on local and state partners, privacy rights, and the increased risk of racial profiling.”
Visit CCR’s NDLON v. ICE case page, or the joint website UncovertheTruth.org, for the text of the FOIA request, the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, other documents obtained through the litigation and all other relevant documents.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org; follow @theCCR.
The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org
The Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was founded in 2008 to provide quality pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants facing deportation. Under the supervision of experienced practitioners, law students in the Clinic represent individuals facing deportation and community-based organizations in public advocacy, media and litigation projects. Visit www.cardozo.yu.edu/immigrationjustice
CONTACT: B. Loewe, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, 773-791-4668; Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, 212-614-6449, [email protected]; Sonia Lin, Cardozo School of Law Immigration Justice Clinic, 212-790-0213, [email protected]
DISTRICT COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF KEY ICE MEMORANDUM
Court Criticizes ICE’s Efforts to Avoid Disclosure as “Offensive” to Freedom of Information Act
October 25, 2011, New York—Last night, Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to publicly disclose by November 1 a previously withheld internal memorandum that advocates believe will shed light on the agency’s legal justification for turning Secure Communities into a mandatory immigration enforcement program.
The decision follows motions for summary judgment filed by all parties in NDLON v. ICE about the memorandum. The government claimed the memorandum was exempt from disclosure under the attorney-client and deliberative process privileges. Plaintiffs the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Cardozo School of Law Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic argued the memo was improperly kept secret from the public in the midst of important policy decisions related to Secure Communities. Indeed, this summer, opposition to Secure Communities reached new levels with the Governors of Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York formally rejecting the program. In response, ICE announced that all of its Memorandum of Agreements with States were dissolved and that the program would be imposed unilaterally. Despite serious questions from States, local jurisdictions, and advocates about ICE’s legal authority to make the program mandatory, the agency continued to withhold information about its legal reasoning and sought to keep the legal authority memorandum secret.
The court ruled in favor of plaintiffs and determined the memorandum had been drafted to justify an already existing policy to make Secure Communities mandatory; that the government failed to prove it had kept the memo confidential; and that the agency had adopted the memorandum’s conclusions and analysis as its internal working law.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights and Cardozo Immigrant Justice Clinic released the following statement in response to the court’s decision:
“Our organizations, along with a chorus of advocates and elected officials across the country, have been seeking to uncover the truth behind ICE’s decision to compel states and localities to participate in its dangerous Secure Communities program. The memorandum ordered disclosed is the only document to date that comprehensively describes the legal authority claimed by ICE in support of its position mandating state and local participation in the controversial program – a deportation dragnet that has raised concerns about racial profiling, due process, the ensnarement of U.S. citizens, community policing, privacy, and other issues.
The judge’s order shines a light on a program that has been plagued with secrecy and lies from its start. We agree with the court’s conclusion that, “an agency’s view ‘that it may adopt a legal position while shielding from public view the analysis that yielded that position is offensive to FOIA.’” We believe it’s also offensive to our democracy.
With this decision, the court has rejected efforts by ICE to “radically expand the government’s ability to resist FOIA requests” and has affirmed that FOIA exists “to promote honest and open government and to assure the existence of an informed citizenry in order to hold the governors accountable to the governed.” We urge the Obama administration to hold federal agencies accountable for their deception and mismanagement, to recognize the complete failure of the Secure Communities program, and to terminate it immediately. It’s time to restore trust and communities. “
For more information on NDLON v. ICE or to view the court order, visit http://ccrjustice.org/secure-communities.