The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch will implement its “Secure Communities” program in New York City beginning May 15, 2012.
ICE, created in 2003, portrays the program as the natural next step to effectively address immigration in the United States. On its website it claims that
Secure Communities is a simple and common sense way to carry out ICE’s priorities. It uses an already-existing federal information-sharing partnership between ICE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that helps to identify criminal aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement. For decades, local jurisdictions have shared the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody with the FBI to see if they have a criminal record. Under Secure Communities, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to ICE to check against its immigration databases. If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable due to a criminal conviction, ICE takes enforcement action – prioritizing the removal of individuals who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by the severity of their crime, their criminal history, and other factors – as well as those who have repeatedly violated immigration laws.
The program will also be implemented in Massachusetts that day, with supporters including Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson who said Secure Communities “isn’t just a big victory for law enforcement.” Referring to “several high-profile motor-vehicle accidents involving illegal immigrants” as reported by The Boston Globe, Hodgson claims “[the program] is a big victory for the families who have lost loved ones.”
“S-Comm,” as several sources have started calling it, has also come under fire, with Governor Cuomo opposing the program. Fox Latino reported today that “New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that it will harm too many people charged with low-level offenses and make immigrants hesitant to cooperate with police or report crimes.” The New York Immigration Coalition released a statement from its executive director Ms. Chung-Wha Hong in which she explains that “it has been clear from its inception that this program undermines our safety and infringes on our civil rights. And evidence of its fundamental flaws has only continued to mount. We now know that Latinos are disproportionately arrested by ICE through Secure Communities, the program has an adverse impact on community policing, and states and localities around the country do not want it in their communities.”
ICE claims it has these concerns in mind and has begun work on policies to protect the civil rights of those involved and training officers to adequately fulfill ICE’s mission.
The promise, however, rings empty and there are protests in the works against yet another anti-immigrant policy in the United States.
Fox News Latino. “Secure Communities Activated in New York, Despite Objections.” http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/05/11/secure-communities-activated-in-new-york-despite-objections/#ixzz1uclLWSeR
New York Immigration Coalition. http://www.thenyic.org/PR_scomm_active_5-11-12
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. https://www.facebook.com/NorthernManhattanCoalitionForImmigrantRights
The Boston Globe. “Feds to activate Secure Communities.” http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2012/05/feds-activate-secure-communities-program-mass-despite-objections-from-gov-patrick/1rNb4cZnuuRqsZ6RtvgNYO/index.html
U.S Immigrant and Customs Enforcement. Overview. http://www.ice.gov/about/overview/
U.S Immigrant and Customs Enforcement. Secure Communities. http://www.ice.gov/secure_communities/