New Yorkers call on Cuomo to back out of immigrant fingerprint-sharing program 'Secure Communities'

New Yorkers call on Cuomo to back out of immigrant fingerprint-sharing program ‘Secure Communities’
BY Erica Pearson
Wednesday, May 11th 2011, 5:43 PM

New Yorkers are stepping up pressure on Gov. Cuomo to back out of a controversial immigrant fingerprint-sharing program – just like the Illinois governor.

States who take part in the program called Secure Communities automatically sends to Homeland Security the fingerprints of everyone who is booked.

The feds say they are trying to find and deport dangerous criminals – but opponents say the program sweeps up immigrants charged with low-level offenses and even domestic-violence victims.

“The time is now for Gov. Cuomo to take a stance,” said Sunita Patel, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Individuals who have been victims of domestic violence have been deported because of Secure Communities,” said Patel.

She pointed to the case of Maria Bolanos, a Salvadoran immigrant in Maryland, who called police after a fight with her husband. The subsequent fingerprint check landed her in deportation proceedings.

A dozen religious leaders held a vigil outside Cuomo’s office Wednesday urging him to follow Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s lead and yank New York out of the program.

“As a minister, I’m incredibly angered and saddened,” said Susan Switzer of Riverside Church. “Secure Communities is a misnomer.”

Earlier this week, 38 state lawmakers sent a letter to Cuomo calling on him to quit the program.

A Cuomo spokesman said the administration is reviewing the program, which has been rolled out in 24 New York counties but is not yet active in any of the five boroughs.