The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced significant changes to Secure Communities(S-Comm), the department’s signature immigration enforcement program. Starting Friday, DHS will unilaterally rescind Memoranda of Agreement with 42 states that authorized fingerprint information sharing with DHS under the flawed S-Comm program, stating that such agreements are unnecessary. This latest announcement makes clear that S-Comm is an unfunded, mandatory program imposed on states despite intentionally misleading assertions by DHS to the contrary. DHS also announced it will continue to unilaterally implement S-Comm in existing jurisdictions and expand the program across the country.
S-Comm has been the subject of significant community outcry in recent months. DHS’s announcement comes shortly after several states, including Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts, attempted to opt-out of the program by rejecting the Memoranda of Agreement their states currently have with DHS. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
“The Department of Homeland Security has clearly shown that its regard for rules, community safety, and transparency take a backseat to using S-Comm, a fundamentally flawed program, to advance its mass deportation agenda. Since the program’s inception, the program’s rules of engagement have shifted to fit DHS’s needs, and not the needs of our communities. A program that was once voluntary has become mandatory, and a program that was sold as customizable to address community concerns has become a one-size-fits-all mandate.
“DHS has chosen to ignore the reams of evidence proving that S-Comm has become a virtual dragnet that ensnares members of the immigrant community and places them directly in the deportation pipeline and dismiss the concerns raised by communities across America. Instead they will unilaterally engulf the country in a program that will undoubtedly sever the tenuous tie between immigrant communities and local law enforcement and endanger us all.”
Nora Preciado, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, added, “Today’s announcement continues a pattern of deception that has shattered any modicum of confidence that the immigrant community may have had with DHS. The Obama Administration must end this disastrous program before it is allowed to wreak more havoc on communities from Los Angeles to New York.”