Santa Clara Co. opts out of Secure Communities Program (South Bay News)

Santa Clara Co. opts out of Secure Communities Program
South Bay News
Karina Rusk

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) — The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to “opt out” of the federal government’s “Secure Communities Program” known as SCOMM.

The 5-to-0 vote came after more than an hour of public testimony that largely denounced the federal immigration initiative, which automatically sends fingerprints taken by local law enforcement agencies of arrested individuals to the Department of Homeland Security. Those opposed to the government initiative say that it forces communities to live in fear and that even victim’s of crimes can be deported causing immigrant families to be torn apart. Supervisor George Shirakawa proposed that the county send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security formally requesting that Santa Clara County not be a part of the federal program. “We are not here to do the job of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” he said. One by one, members of the public spoke before the board calling attention to what they call the dangers of a policy that pushes illegal immigrants into hiding and fearful of interacting with local police. Laura Villalobos told the board that she knows many parents are aren’t even involved in their children’s education or volunteer at schools because they are worried about being fingerprinted. There were two speakers out of 18 who spoke in favor of SCOMM. Lee Ellak of San Jose told the board told the board that if it opted out of the Secure Communities program, Santa Clara County would become known as a “safe haven” for illegal immigrants and cost the county untold millions in crime and social services that are provided to immigrants. After the board’s unanimous vote to “opt out” of SCOMM, a large group of people at the Supervisors meeting gave the board a standing ovation for taking the position.