PRESS RELEASE: “SECURE COMMUNITIES” CHANGES FAIL TO SOLVE PROGRAM’S FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 27, 2012

CONTACTS:

Jonathan Fried, WeCount!, (305) 281-9377jonathan@we-count.org

Isabel Vinent, Florida Immigrant Coalition, (786) 210-8287isabel@floridaimmigrant.org

B. Loewe, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), (773) 791-4668bloewe@ndlon.org

LATEST “SECURE COMMUNITIES” CHANGES FAIL TO SOLVE PROGRAM’S FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS

 Calls Renewed for Immediate Termination of Controversial Deportation Program

Today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced minor modifications to the much-maligned “Secure Communities” program (S-Comm). The modifications, which come after two years of mounting opposition to S-Comm from state and local officials, congressional representatives, advocates, and faith groups, were quickly denounced by advocates as inadequate to address the program’s failings.

“Today’s modifications only widen the controversy over this program which has come to symbolize the Obama Administration’s broken promises on immigration reform,” said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.  “It’s time to turn the off switch on a program that is leading to the Arizonification of the country.”

Opponents have long charged that S-Comm, which requires state and local jails to run immigration background checks on any person booked into custody—regardless of the seriousness or ultimate disposition of their charges—is undermining community safety and jeopardizing civil rights.  Three states and numerous cities have demanded to be removed from the program, but ICE has refused their requests. Meanwhile, the program has made possible unprecedented levels of deportations. Since the program was launched in 2008—the year President Obama took office—over one million people have been deported.

Today’s announcement came in response to a September 2011 report on S-Comm from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Taskforce, which was harshly critical of the program. The Taskforce found that S-Comm could encourage a perception of local police as immigration officials, thus discouraging immigrant witnesses and crime victims from reporting crime and endangering public safety. Several task force members resigned from the task force in protest because the recommendations of the report did not go far enough. Arturo Venegas, the former police chief of Sacramento said the program was “deeply flawed” and was “undermining public safety.”

The announced modifications do not change the fundamental nature of S-Comm. S-Comm will continue to funnel individuals from local jails to deportation proceedings, and it will continue to operate pre-conviction, meaning people will be targeted for deportation despite never being convicted of a crime.

“This program isn’t bringing security to our communities,” said Jonathan Fried, executive director of WeCount!.  “On the contrary, it is responsible for the deportation of thousands of contributing members of our community, children being separated from their parents, and greater mistrust of the police.  These ‘reforms’ do little to change anything.”

Sarahi Uribe, National Organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said, “ICE is up to the same old tricks. We’ve seen this strategy before with the failed 287(g) program. Like it did before, ICE announced minor changes ahead of an Inspector General audit in order to spare itself embarrassment. We’re not falling for it this time. These modifications are cosmetic. They won’t solve the flaws in S-Comm, which are fundamental.  The program needs to be ended, not mended.”
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