PR: Arturo Venegas Sets Example for Failed DHS Taskforce. Resignation Makes Former Sacramento Chief Hero in Immigrant Communities

Arturo Venegas Sets Example for Failed DHS Taskforce. Resignation Makes Former Sacramento Chief Hero in Immigrant Communities
Prominent Rights Groups say “End it Don’t Mend It” in Hard-Hitting Parallel Report

09.15.2011– Washington DC.
See Complete Report Here: http://altopolimigra.com/s-comm-shadow-report/

After a firestorm of controversy over the Secure Communities deportation program (or “SCOMM”), a committee charged with providing recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security has failed to reach consensus with taskforce members beginning to resign.

Click here to view Arturo Venegas resignation letter (PDF).

Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network praised the first to resign, “”Arturo Venegas is setting the example and leading the way for taskforce members to match the courage of those who stood up at taskforce hearings calling for an end of the program. His resignation today makes him a hero in the immigrant community.”

The Secure Communities Task Force was widely viewed as an effort by DHS to dampen growing criticism of the discredited program rather than an earnest attempt to seek input from the program’s detractors. In contrast to the DHS task force, a broad coalition of experts achieved complete consensus in a shadow report recommending the complete termination of SCOMM.

Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:
“Rather than sweep SCOMM’s catastrophic flaws under a rug, the administration should end the program. DHS has used unprecedented deception to sell a dangerous program to the American public, and its use of this task force is no different. It is clear DHS set the task force up as a ruse to cover up its colossal failure, but it didn’t work.

“The task force report will only lead to more controversy over SCOMM as questions are raised about why it couldn’t achieve consensus, and as everyone now watches to see whether the White House will finally hold DHS accountable.

“S-Comm is leading to the ‘Arizonification’ of the United States. Immediate suspension pending a genuine review by the Inspector General will be required to regain public trust in DHS. An end to the program will be required to advance the goal of immigration reform.”

Background on Parallel Report:
“The Secure Communities program should be ended,” is the central recommendation of a report authored by broad coalition of prominent local and national immigrant rights group and endorsed by over 150 organizations. The report, which features the voices of law enforcement, judges, academics, and directly impacted individuals, chronicles the deception of Immigration and Customs Enforcement uncovered through FOIA litigation, local organizing, and advocacy. The report clearly lays out demonstrable negative impacts SCOMM has had on community safety and civil rights.

For example, Ron Hampton president of Black Law Enforcement in America writes in the report, “Opposition to Secure Communities “is rooted in common sense: counties and states across the country rely on the relationships of the communities they serve to combat and solve crime. It is foolish to sever this tie in order to enforce civil immigration law.”
Echoing the concerns of other law enforcement officials and experts, Robert Morgenthau, former New York City District Attorney, wrote in the report, “When immigrants perceive the local police force as merely an arm of the federal immigration authority, they become reluctant to report criminal activity for fear of being turned over to federal officials.”
The report also included the testimony of Joaquin, a resident of Homestead, Florida who was wrongfully arrested and assaulted by police and now faces deportation because of the Secure Communities program. He wrote, “I never committed a crime but now I am facing going back to my country. My plans, my dreams, everything was changed.

Background on the Secure Communities Task Force:
The task force has been discredited by the immigrant rights movement since its inception. Shortly after its creation 200 organizations, including civil rights groups, labor, faith as well as some law enforcement leaders sent a letter to John Morton, ICE’s director, on July 20th raising concern about the scope of the task force, its lack of transparency, and its inadequate process to review the program in light of the pending Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General audit. Groups urged ICE to immediately suspend the program.

A second letter with over 160 groups was sent to the task force asking them to resign following the August 5th, announcement by ICE that the agency would unilaterally terminate all agreements and impose the program on all cities and states despite objections that the program damages public safety and the decisions of Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts to not participation in the program. (attached) The agency’s shift to make the program an unfunded mandate after two years of operation and over 43 Memorandums of Agreements signed with states (they included termination clauses), defied basic democratic principles and further exposed the agency as rogue and lacking any regard for the “nation’s courts, local and state law-makers, law enforcement, and communities—much less this task force.”

At community hearings held this summer by the task force in Dallas, Los Angeles, Illinois, and Arlington, Virginia the members were met with massive protests, walk outs, acts of civil disobedience, and calls to resign from the “sham” task force and to end the program.
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