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Latino Daily News

Sunday May 8, 2011

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Calls for Moratorium on “Secure Communities” Deportation Program

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Calls for Moratorium on “Secure Communities” Deportation Program

Photo: Say No to Secure Communities Program

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Following a chorus of growing criticism over the President’s Secure Communities (S-Comm) policy, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus delivered a letter to the White House calling on the Administration to place a moratorium on the program that “is not living up to its name,” according to the Caucus.

Secure Communities (SCOMM) was initially described as a program to identify and deport immigrants found guilty of serious crimes.  The program enlists local police into federal immigration enforcement by screening all fingerprints of those booked in local jails through the federal ICE database.  Data revealed through a federal lawsuit filed by civil rights groups shows the program fails to live up to its stated intention, as the program deports large groups of people without any convictions or convicted of only minor offenses.  According to the CHC letter,  “Evidence reveals not only a striking dissonance between the program’s stated purpose of removing dangerous criminals and it’s actual effect; it also suggests that S-Comm may endager the public, particularly among communities of color…”

Lawmakers in Congress and in states throughout the country say ICE officials lied about program details and requirements at its early stages.  Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California has described the implementation of the program as “dissembling and deceiving” and has called for an Inspector General (IG)  investigation with the support of Senator Menendez.  The call is reminiscent of another IG report on SCOMM’s predecessor, the 287(g) program made famous by Joe Arpaio in Arizona, which showed a program riddled with flaws that was too broken to be fixed. 

On May 4th, the Governor of Illinois terminated his state’s participation in the program.  In California, Assemblyman Ammiano introduced the TRUST Act to reform and regulate the program.  In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, large scale rallies have taken place in opposition to the program. 

Thus the Caucus states, “We appreciate and steadfastly support your efforts to reform broken immigration laws and to strengthen national security and public safety.  Unfortunately, neither of these goals are served or advanced by the S-Comm policy in its current form…

We are not convinced the program is achieving its stated goals, and we see nothing in the management and oversight of S-Comm that convinces us that these risks have been adequately addressed in the latest incarnation of local police immigration enforcement…

For these reasons, we request an immediate freeze of S-Comm pending a thorough review.”