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CCR Attorney Sunita Patel on The Takeaway Radio Show

The Take Away Radio Show LogoThis episode originally aired on The Takeaway, August 12, 2010.

From The Takeaway:

“Secure Communities,” the federal initiative by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is supposed to find and deport illegal immigrants who have committed violent crimes. ICE aims to do this by requiring states to forward the fingerprints of people booked by local police to federal immigration officials. But is that how the program really works? More than a fourth of the people deported under the Secure Communities policy have no criminal record at all. Some local law enforcement groups say that if illegal immigrants fear they’ll be deported after interacting with the police, they will avoid calling them, even when crimes are being committed.

Sunita Patel is a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. She opposes the Secure Communities program, saying that it violates our constitutional rights. Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration studies, a conservative policy center, explains why he supports deportation under these circumstances.

Listen to the full interview with the audio player below:

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CCR Attorney Sunita Patel on Law and Disorder Radio Show

Law and Disorder Radio Show logoOriginally aired May 10, 2010. From the Law and Disorder Radio Show website:

Listen back to the show with the audio player below:

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CCR Attorney Legal Observer Arrested in Arizona Immigration Protests

Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights were arrested last week during mass demonstrations of protesters who opposed Federal law 287G, Arizona law SB 1070. What happened? CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley told the media, Arizona is starting to act like Mississippi in the civil rights days. Among those arrested were National Lawyers Guild officer Roxana Orrell and CCR staff attorney Sunita Patel.

Sunita Patel:

  • It was my first time in Maricopa County. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is known for branding the most horrible incarnation of 287G and ICE police collaboration.
  • 287G is the statute by which this program is authorized by Congress. He also has what’s called a secure communities program which allows for the identification of anyone who is a non-citizen through a finger printing system. 287G allows for local agencies to implement immigration law through a memorandum of understanding with the federal government.
  • At the same time he implements what’s called “crime suppression sweeps” Where he takes his units and regular citizens to sweep through neighborhoods.
  • I spent the night in jail, I hadn’t planned on it. It was really an honor to be in solidarity with the rest of the protesters. I was charged with obstruction of a highway and public thoroughfare and failure to obey a police officer. People in Arizona call it a war zone when it comes to immigration enforcement.
  • Arizona has also become the site for a spark of incredible activism and the growth of an incredible human rights movement.

Prior to her position at CCR, she held a Soros Justice Fellowship at The Legal Aid Society, Immigration Law Unit in New York where she represented immigrant detainees in removal proceedings and worked with criminal justice and human rights groups to create independent community oversight for detention operations through public accountability boards. Sunita is a former law clerk for the Honorable Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Philadelphia: Our Stories Give Us Power

Late October, 2009: Fifteen members of Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement and the Philadelphia Storytelling Project, all grassroots community organizations, meet in a community center in South Philadelphia. Most of them or their family members have been arrested by Philadelphia police—almost always for minor offenses which have not resulted in convictions—and turned over to ICE  ,where deportation proceedings were begun. Juntos has a list of at least forty-five immigrants who have been caught up in the this web and now face deportation. They are there to tell their stories and demand that the police stop collaborating with ICE. They decide to call themselves the Storytelling Group of South Philadelphia.

In the spring of 2009, Philadelphia began participating in the ICE Secure Communities Program. Philadelphia also allows ICE log-in privileges to PARS, a database maintained by the Philadelphia police, which is a record of everyone with an arrest and/or criminal record within the city. In both cases ICE has easy real-time on-line access to any immigrant who has been arrested, even those who have not been convicted of a crime. When ICE scans the database, they are looking for foreign-looking names and country of origin, and targeting those people to demand evidence of documents of legal residence. Many of the people turned over to ICE never have the opportunity to go to trial for the crime for which they were charged—they have no chance to exonerate themselves. In many cases when they do go to trail, they are found innocent. In either case, they all are now part of the ICE system and face deportation.

The Storytelling Group talks about telling their stories, making them public, creating a collective voice that must be heard by officials who make decisions that destroy their families. They review the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and decide that their stories will be testimonies of abuses of their human rights: denial of due process, racial profiling and discrimination, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, lack of equal protection under the law, fear for their own safety. They discuss the risks of telling their stories, of going public, and decide to use pseudonyms to protect themselves and their families. They make a pact that they will each have complete control of their own story: how it will be used in the public debate, when, and where.

Download the full transcript of Guadalupe’s testimony in PDF format.

Challenges to Law Enforcement Collaboration by Immigration Activists

PRI's The World LogoLily Jamali reports for PRI’s The World from New York on challenges by immigration activists to local-federal law enforcement collaboration on immigration enforcement. The challenges have been spurred further by the new law on immigration passed by Arizona recently. Listen to the podcast with the player below.

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This audio feature was originally published at PRI’s The World website.