Advocates Try to Speed Release of Opt-out Docs Ahead of ICE Meetings

Advocates Try to Speed Release of Opt-out Docs Ahead of ICE Meetings
Posted by Deport Nation on Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three counties plan to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the next two weeks to discus how they can opt-out of Secure Communities. But officials say they have no idea what to expect.

“I urgently need more information about Secure Communities for my November 8, 2010, meeting with ICE… so I can adequately represent the interests of my constituents,” said San Fransisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey.

Hennessey’s plea came in a statement used as evidence for an emergency injunction filed today by legal advocates who want to fast-track part of an open records request they began in February.

“We need answers, and we need them now,” said Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the motion along with the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON) and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law School.

The injunction focuses on the release of opt-out related documents, and argues further delay “will result in irreparable harm.”

“State officials across the country are making complex  policy determinations about whether to sign or rescind Secure Communities MOAs without clear  information about the implications for localities that do not want to participate,” reads the injunction.

Arlington County, VA is set to meet first with ICE on November 5, based on an opt-out request it sent this summer. The meeting could set the tone for a Nov. 8 discussion Santa Clara, CA has planned with ICE, and a November 9 meeting with San Fransisco officials.

Sarahi Uribe, who has helped lead the push-back against Secure Communities through her position with NDLON, noted the urgent need for opt-out information is “not limited to the places where we have knowledge of meetings between local officials and ICE.”

Uribe made the comment in her statement filed with the injunction, where she described getting requests from around the country asking how to opt-out. She said callers were confused by contradicting statements from ICE on whether is is possible to opt-out.

This is the case in New York City. Governor Patterson signed a state agreement to enter into Secure Communities last May, which he’s since been ask to rescind it.

One of the statements in the injunction comes from NYC City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said she’s had a lot of support from her colleagues for an opt-out measure she plans to introduce, but “the uncertainty about the procedure for opting-out of Secure Communities is an impediment to this bill.”

Meanwhile the program has been active for several months in Arlington, VA, despite official opposition. Local immigrant rights activist, Esteban Garcia with Tenants and Workers United, said “there already exists a fear of police here, and Secure Communities has compounded that fear and made it worse.”

He told Deportation Nation he’d recently spoke to an immigrant who was accused of stealing a bicycle, and later found innocent. When he was released, ICE was there to transfer him into their custody.

“Even if you prove your innocence, ICE is still there,” said Garcia.