NDLON: Tide Turning Against Discredited “Secure Communities” Jail Deportation Program (PR)

For Immediate Release

Date:  June 1, 2011
Contact: B. Loewe, NDLON, 773.791.4668

Tide Turning Against Discredited “Secure Communities” Jail Deportation Program; New York Governor Cuomo Joins Growing Chorus Calling for Moratorium

The following is a statement of Pablo Alvarado,  Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, in reaction to Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement to suspend New York’s participation in the S-COMM program:

“New York joins a growing chorus of state opposition to an ill-conceived, dangerous, and dishonestly-executed program.  The more local law enforcement and elected officials learn about SCOMM, the more they have have opposed it.

“It makes sense that New York is heading in the opposite direction of Arizona.  Unlike Arizona, New York’s elected officials are proud of the state’s immigrant heritage, and there is zero tolerance for programs that imperil the civil rights of communities of color.

“SCOMM not only diminishes community safety, erodes civil rights, and undermines our shared goal of advancing meaningful federal immigration reform-  questions are now being raised about Department of Homeland Security’s legal authority to commandeer state resources in an unwise effort to ramp up its deportation numbers.

“It is clear the tide turning on SCOMM, and it’s high time for the President to terminate the program before any further damage is done to our communities.  At a minimum, we hope the President will honor the request of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and freeze the program immediately.”

BACKGROUND ON PROGRAM

Secure Communities (S-Comm) was originally sold to Congress and state officials as a program to identify and deport individuals who had been convicted of serious, violent crimes.  This relatively uncontroversial proposition at first received little attention.  But it quickly became clear that S-Comm was not what ICE represented it to be.

Through FOIA litigation, ICE was forced to admit that about 30% of those deported through S-Comm have absolutely no criminal convictions.  Another 30% have only minor misdemeanor offenses.
See the latest statistics at http://www.ice.gov/doclib/foia/sc-stats/nationwide_interoperability_stats-fy2011-feb28.pdf.

States and localities that had agreed to participate in S-Comm based on ICE’s representations of the program have rebelled upon discovering its broad sweep, based on concerns about the effect S-Comm could have on community policing, civil rights, resource diversion, and other concerns.  See Illinois Gov Quinn letter terminating state participation; congresspeople letter to NYS.  (available  upon request).

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called for a moratorium on the program, expressing concern that ”Secure Communities” is actually making immigrant communities and communities of color less secure.   See http://uncoverthetruth.org/congressional-hispanic-caucus-calls-for-moratorium-on-s-comm.

And ICE’s behavior in unrolling S-Comm is now the subject of an OIG investigation.  As documented in a letter from Congresswoman Lofgren, the agency’s communications about S-Comm to Congressmembers and state and local officials were filled with lies and misrepresentations.  See http://crocodoc.com/yrSVM1.

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