Federal and State Elected Officials Join Immigrants and Advocates in Protesting Activation of Mass Deportation Program in New York (Press Release)

For Release at 12pm, May 14, 2012

Contact:

Michelle Fei: mfei@immigrantdefenseproject.org; 484.466.6334

Michael Cummings: mcummings@nyclu.org, 212.607.3368

Thanu Yakupitiyage: tyaku@thenyic.org 212 627 2227 x 235

Federal and State Elected Officials Join Immigrants and Advocates in Protesting Activation of Mass Deportation Program in New York

New York, NY (May 14, 2012): A broad coalition of New York advocates, joined by federal and state elected officials, today held a rally to condemn the activation of the mass deportation program known as “Secure Communities” in New York and other states. The groups renewed calls for immediate nationwide termination of the program, which is set to go live tomorrow.

U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano stated, “As we see ‘Secure Communities’ expand to the whole state of New York against our citizens’ and elected officials’ wishes, we continue to call for a immediate suspension of this flawed deportation program. Time and again we see this program splitting up families, deporting immigrants for traffic offenses, and generally making our communities less secure. I join with the groups protesting today in saying that this program must end and must end now.”

“When Governor Cuomo suspended ‘Secure Communities’ in New York, police and local leaders hoped that our communities’ safety could begin to be restored,” said New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “If individuals are afraid to approach law enforcement, our communities become less safe and we all suffer. This dangerous program once again threatens to violate the rights of all immigrants. ‘Secure Communities’ has no place in New York State and should be seen as a threat to the safety of all New Yorkers.”

“We are appalled that ICE now plans to steamroll through New York with ‘Secure Communities.’ New York has delivered the message loud and clear that this mass deportation program has no place anywhere in our country, much less our state,” said Michelle Fei, Co-Director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “Especially when policing practices are drawing increasing complaints and scrutiny, we cannot give police more power to funnel immigrants into an unjust immigration system. President Obama needs to terminate ‘Secure Communities’ right now.”

“Immigrants like me who have arrests or convictions still don’t deserve deportation, especially through a program as fundamentally flawed as “‘Secure Communities,’” said Ravi Ragbir, an organizer with the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. “This program tears apart families and devastates our communities.”

“‘Secure Communities’ tears families apart, invites racial profiling, and makes us less safe by eroding community-police relations,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Advocacy Director Udi Ofer.  “‘Secure Communities’ is wrong for America, and it is wrong for New York.”

Advocates at the rally included domestic violence, immigrant rights, family services, labor, faith-based, civil rights, and community-based organizations, who have all decried the program for jeopardizing community safety and encouraging racial profiling. Moreover, advocates say, “Secure Communities” funnels immigrants into an unjust deportation system that compounds the problems of the criminal justice system.

“Over 75 national, state, and local LGBT organizations have come out against the role of ‘Secure Communities’ in ICE’s deportation dragnet,” said Andrea Ritchie, Coordinator of Streetwise and Safe (SAS). “The implementation of Secure Communities, joined with the New York Police Department’s astronomical rates of profiling and its practice of making dual arrests for LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence, is a devastating combination for New Yorkers.”