Immigration in Poughkeepsie

In the United States, the Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing populations  (immigrant or not), with the majority being Mexican. About 18,000 out of 280, 200 residents who live in New York State’s Dutchess County are Hispanic, which is evident in the community of Poughkeepsie (Valente 2002). The Mid-Hudson Valley has been home to many different immigrant populations, which is apparent when walking down Main Street and observing the diversity of stores and restaurants. Nevertheless, within the past decade or so, a majority of immigrants to the Mid-Hudson Valley have been from Mexico (Valente 2002).

Throughout Poughkeepsie, Hispanic influences within the community are visible in the increasing number of Mexican restaurants, small stores, and the visibility of signs written in Spanish.  In fact, during an immigrant march and rally in 2006, the presence of this large population was felt when a number of stores were not open for business during the day as part of a “Day Without an Immigrant” boycott. It is clear that there is a prominent social network due to the strong ethnic ties that exist within the community. Many Mexican immigrants came to the Hudson Valley for the most common reason – in search of a better job.

In a Poughkeepsie Journal article, William Valente (2002) writes about one immigrant’s experience in Poughkeepsie: Clemencia Arroyo and her two children joined her husband, who had come from Mexico to the U.S. five years before. Similar to many immigrants, the decision to migrate was influenced by the search for a better life and greater educational opportunities for their children.

In terms of assimilation into America, in Valente’s (2002) interview of the Arroyo family, the mother speaks mostly in Spanish, while the children took extra classes in order to learn English and are perfectly fluent. As members of the 1.5-generation immigrant population, they have had an easier time incorporating the American mainstream into their lives. (The 1.5-generation refers to immigrants who came to the United States during or before their teenage years.) Common among immigrant experiences, the younger sibling identifies much more with his American identity, but is happy that the family has held on to their Mexican traditions. In considering the impact of the ethnic network within Poughkeepsie, it seems that it would be a bit easier to hold on to cultural ties. The family realizes that their lives in Poughkeepsie give them an opportunity for greater education, employment opportunities, as well as a better life overall than if they still lived in Mexico.

In Valente’s (2002) article, he provides a reference to English as a Second Language resources that people may contact. It seems that the Mexican and Hispanic population has formed somewhat of an ethnic enclave in Poughkeepsie. The term ethnic enclave  refers to the way immigrants organize in a community where they set up social networks helping fellow immigrants obtain jobs, while still connecting to their ethnicity (Rumbaut and Portes 2001).

The sense of community and ethnic ties are founded in the number of organizations that have been concerned with immigrants’ rights. These organizations have been established to address issues education, health, and poverty, which are common issues among immigrant groups, thus creating more resources for immigrant groups.



Rumbaut, Ruben and Alejandro Portes. 2001. Ethnicities: Children of Immigrants in America. Berkley: University of California Press.


Valente, William A. 2002. “Valley is gaining a Mexican Flavor: Immigrants Seeking Jobs.” Poughkeepsie Journal, May 5. Retrieved May 10, 2012 (

Border Patrol

The U.S. government has increased its spending on border enforcement, in order to mediate the persisting problem of illegal immigration from Mexico. In addition to the increased spending of $10 billion more per year on border enforcement, the government also spent tons of money creating a fence across the border, which has had little effect in decreasing the number of unauthorized immigrants who come into the U.S. In fact, the fence has created a greater problem, because it funnels the migration streams from Mexico and Latin America into more dangerous points of entry. Many activists groups have been established in order to address the many problems concerning human rights violations along the border.

A political science professor interviewed over 1,000 migrants in an effort to highlight the impacts of border enforcement on migrants. In his study, Cornelius (2006) found that heightened border enforcement does not discourage immigrants from migrating. Often, the migrants keep trying to cross until they finally succeed. More migrants have begun hiring smugglers–which cost anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000 per person–in an effort to ensure safer crossings.

There is a large discussion suggesting the need for reform because of the re-direction of immigrants into more dangerous terrain, which causes more deaths. In addition, the detention facilities in which immigrants are held are often lacking in their ability to provide adequate food and access to medical care. There have also been reports of physical and sexual abuse in the detention facilities. Castillo (2011) discussed the different testimonies reported by No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization in Arizona whose mission is to end the deaths and mistreatment on the U.S.-Mexico border, and to make the public aware of what is happening there. In addition, members of the organization wish to encourage more humane immigration policies and want to see a reform of the current legislation. Castillo (2011) found that many immigrants who are held by Border Patrol are denied food and water, even if they are clearly dehydrated, and are subject to extreme hot and cold conditions, sleep deprivation, death threats, and psychological abuse. At times, some immigrants were unable to retrieve all of their personal belongings upon departure. Also, there were reports that children were often split from their parents and deported separately, which is very unjust, especially when taking in consideration the trauma that children must already be suffering, only to then be separated from a source of comfort – their parents. In addition, racial profiling and harassment are common along the border.

Other organizations that defend basic human and civil rights are the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso and Derechos Humanos In Arizona. Both organizations hope to correct misinformation through informative demonstrations and marches. Isabel Garcia, founder of Derechos Humanos, stated that “lies about immigrants prevent any real justice.” Others suggest changes in U.S. immigration policy that could decrease the U.S.-Mexico conflict. For example, Cornelius (2006) proposes that we should legalize the immigrants who are here, therefore providing them an option for upward mobility. Also, he suggested that perhaps the U.S. government could grant temporary worker options, which has the potential to decrease illegal entries. It is clear that there is a need for reform and that these conflicts should be made aware to the public.


Castillo, Mariano. 2011. “Report: Border Patrol abuses widespread.” Retrieved May 14, 2012 (

Cornelius, Wayne A. 2006. Impacts of Border Enforcement on Unauthorized Mexican Migration to the United States. Border Battles: The U.S. Immigration Debates. Retrieved April 10, 2012 (

Detention Watch Network. 2012. “Border Enforcement and Short-Term Detention.” Retrieved May 14, 2012 (

Influence of U.S. Public and Government Views on Polish Immigrants

In the example of Poland, we see the influence that the context of reception can have on an immigrant group. Specifically, because Poland was facing political turmoil and the United States had ulterior motives in aiding it, Polish immigrants received special support that has directly led to their success as an immigrant group. This raises some questions about American policy, particularly concerning which immigrant groups receive support and whether the decision to aid these groups should be based so heavily on political ideology.

In the case of Poland, American views are most important during World War II and the Polish Solidarity Movement since those are the two periods when Poland was most represented in American media and because the latter signifies a period of increased migration from Poland to the United States. In Iwona Korga’s article on Polish information policy during WWII, she notes that the Polish Information Center, which was under the supervision of the Polish Embassy in the United States at the time, had a mission to “convince American public opinion of the justice of Polish war aims” (2007:29). Some of these aims included “creating the image of a modern democratic Polish state” similar to that of the U.S., “exposing Hitler’s treatment of the Polish nation,” and “acquainting Americans with Polish culture” (Korga 2007:29-30). Many of these policies were reflected in the media, which sought to create sympathy for Poland and its quest for democracy, usually quite successfully.

In her article titled “American Attitudes on Two Attempts to Establish Democracy in Poland, 1947 and 1989,” Anna Mazurkiewicz notes that after WWII, “American opinions were mostly favorable to Poland as long as U.S. relations with it did not mean war” (2005:70). This is the first glimpse of an American trend to support Poland in its aims only as long as it remained beneficial. For example, although a 1945 survey before the Yalta Conference showed that “59 percent of the respondents were of the opinion that the United States should take a more active part in the settlement of European problems ‘such as those of Greece, Italy and Poland,’” it was likely only due to the fact that America’s future was tied to the fate of some these nations (2005:69). This is also evidenced in the fact that about half of the 32 percent who said that “the U.S. should leave these concerns to be settled by European powers” also said that “if it meant domination of the little countries by Britain or Russia, the United States should take an active part” (2007:69). Clearly, American views of Poland were highly influenced by the government’s political agenda.

By 1947, the American government was unable to respond to the situation in Poland especially considering the fact that the American public was “still largely pro-Soviet” when democracy still had the chance to be formed. In the words of Mazurkiewicz, “The ‘sentimental’ friendship was there, but the American government did not respond” (2005:86). Therefore, prior to the Solidarity movement, Americans had a positive view of Polish immigrants, allowing Polish immigrants more growth than some other immigrant groups. Here we see the benefits of sympathy from the American public founded in political issues. It was not until the 1980’s that the U.S. government directly aided Polish immigrants in the adjustment process. The Refugee Act of 1980  allowed for Polish refugees to “obtain federal and state support for ‘language and job training, as well as housing allowance and food stamps’” (Coleman 2004:28). During the 1980’s, when Poland had a second chance at forming a democracy, not only the positive views of the American public (influenced by the American government), but also the direct action of the government in order to support democracy allowed Polish immigrants to have even better circumstances for their arrival.

Poland is a prime example of the effects that political conditions can have on an immigrant group. Therefore, it may be extremely beneficial to promote a positive image of an ethnic group in order for immigrants to experience a positive reception in the U.S. However, it seems unfair that this positive image historically comes hand-in-hand with a political agenda. Perhaps by using the American education system to better promote positive images of different ethnic groups, more immigrant groups will be given the benefits that nations receiving sympathy for their political situations have received. Also, when it comes to aid from the U.S. government, it seems inappropriate only to offer aid to immigrant groups whose nations it has a political stake in. Perhaps if other immigrant groups were given similar benefits, they would encounter less trouble adjusting to life in America. U.S. policy concerning immigration must see a shift from offering aid when it is desperately needed to offering aid when it can be beneficial.

Works Cited

Coleman, Geraldine Balut. 2004. “Educating Polish Immigrants Chicago Style: 1980-2002.” Polish American Studies 61(1):27-38.

Korga, Iwona D. 2007. “The Information policy of the Polish Government-in-Exile toward the American Public during World War II.” Polish American Studies 64(1):67-96.

Mazurkiewicz, Anna. 2005. “American Attitudes on Two Attempts to Establish Democracy in Poland, 1947 and 1989.” Polish American Studies 62(1):67-96.

Educating Polish Immigrants

Although the Polish immigrant population in America today is not one of the most prevalent, its success in terms of educational attainment and income raises a few interesting questions concerning immigrants in America. Specifically, the Polish American and Polish immigrant population in the Chicago area has used some interesting methods to ensure that individuals were not only being educated with American standards in mind, but also focusing on the group’s heritage and history. This group is also a prime example of some of the ways in which the success of an immigrant group can lead to some adverse effects for future immigrants when too much focus is placed the second and third generation.

In a profile of Polish Americans using data from the 2000 U.S. Census, Jason C. Booza notes that “when compared to the national population, Poles 25 years of age and over are much better educated” (2007:68). For example, 19.1% of the Polish population in America had a Bachelor’s Degree as compared to 15.5% of the total population (2007:70). Another surprising statistic is found in the 3.8% poverty rate for Polish families, as compared to the 9.2% national average. A closer look at the education of the Polish community in Chicago provides a glimpse into some of the approaches that have allowed for the group’s success.

Firstly, it is important to note the positive influence that the Refugee Act of 1980 had on many Polish immigrants since it offered “language and job training, as well as housing allowance and food stamps” (Coleman 2004:28). Although this wave of Polish immigrants differed in many ways from earlier waves, both groups “showed the desire to see all American Poles learn about Polish culture” (Coleman 2007:29). Clearly, assistance from the U.S. government is a beneficial step towards success for an immigrant group. In Chicago, many schools began to offer bilingual education programs following the Bilingual Education Act in 1968. Despite some issues including lack of qualified teachers and materials, various schools were able to implement these programs successfully, but many individuals in the Polish community desired a way to teach children the Polish language and culture in a way that would not impede their immersion in the American education system (Coleman 2007:33-34).

Along with the desire for immersion, the group’s success in terms of education and occupation, as well as its subsequent assimilation into American culture and its spread into the suburbs, have raised questions concerning the future effectiveness of bilingual programs (Coleman 2007:34). This is evidence of the fact that an immigrant group’s needs are constantly changing, so frequent reevaluation of its disadvantages is required. Bilingual education may have been the best option when children were having less success in schools, but because the issue has been largely solved, a different approach that also tackles more relevant and recent problems could be beneficial. Also, bilingual education programs were successful because of the high concentrations of Poles in certain communities, but because these programs have aided in assimilation, the group has been spreading geographically, which will lead to difficulty in using the public education system to address their needs.

Because immersion is becoming more favorable than bilingual programs for Polish American students, education concerning the Polish language and culture must be found elsewhere. Polish Saturday schools seem to be the most effective way of allowing Polish Americans to be immersed in the American education system while still contributing to America’s multicultural heritage. The Polish immigrant group is a good example of how both assimilation into American culture and remaining entrenched in the culture of their homeland can lead to success for a group.

Works Cited

Booza, Jason C. 2007. “A Profile of Polish Americans: Data from the 2000 U.S. Census.” Polish American Studies 64(1):63-74.

Coleman, Geraldine Balut. 2004. “Educating Polish Immigrants Chicago Style: 1980-2002.” Polish American Studies 61(1):27-38.

Immigrant Youth Detention

The headlines have increasingly focused on undocumented immigrants in the United States. Every day there are new stories, from the conservative and the liberal sector, that describe one issue or another regarding illegal immigration. For example, the news has focused on the new configured rate of illegal immigration (which as of March 10 was reported to be in decline) or a new crime committed by or against an undocumented immigrant. However, only recently have the media focused on immigrant detention centers, and rarely has the press focused on immigrant youth detention centers. Undocumented youth, just like adults, can be detained due to their legal status. While the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency is focused on finding criminal and violent undocumented immigrants, that does not mean that they let everyday undocumented individuals go, and youth are no exception.

Undocumented youth are brought to the attention of ICE officers mainly due to two reasons. The first reason is that immigrant youth are caught trying to cross the border illegally. It has been calculated that in recent years “approximately 8,000 youth are considered ‘unaccompanied alien children’” who tried to enter the United States (Frankel 2011: 64). These youth travel extraordinary lengths to try and find a better life in the United States. The film Which Way Home, produced by HBO, documents the journey of children as they travel to the U.S. The other reason undocumented youth are brought to the attention of ICE is because they are entered into the juvenile justice system without a clear legal status, in which case ICE puts a hold on their forms. It is approximated that “1,000 minors are apprehended each year through internal enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement” (Frankel 2011: 64).

Once within ICE custody, youth are sent to detention centers or an “ICE-contracted facility—a local city or county jail, a state facility, or a juvenile detention center” (Frankel 2011 74). These facilities, jails, and detention centers, are created for the purpose of rehabilitating incarcerated individuals who were convicted of committing a crime. Undocumented youth who are detained–not because of criminal offenses but because of their legal status–are then sent to these facilities. In “An Analysis of Treatment of Unaccompanied Immigrant and Refuge Children in INS Detention and Other Forms of Institutionalized Custody,” author Lisa Rodriguez Navarro writes that “the INS treats unaccompanied minors like common criminals by handcuffing them during transit and by requiring that they wear jail clothes” (1998: 601). However, unlike incarcerated individuals, undocumented youth who have been detained do not know the duration of their sentences. Youth can spend a couple months to over a year incarcerated (Navarro 1998: 599). Not only are these youth contained in a criminal setting, there is a history of undocumented youth being denied services.

Navarro writes that “these centers, camps and facilities have a history of housing immigrant minors in disgraceful conditions without access to education, health care, legal services, or other basic necessities” (1998: 590). These detention centers do not provide the guaranteed rights to undocumented youth. Even though these youth are not citizens, that does not mean that they should be denied the liberties entitled to them.

Undocumented individuals, especially youth, “have no statutory right to counsel at the governments expense” (Frankel 2011: 66). This means that undocumented youth must be able to pay for a legal representative or find a pro bono attorney, however, most youth appear before court without any representative.

Undocumented youth who have been detained live in unsafe facilities, do no receive access to legal aid, and are often treated like criminals. Media, news sources and academia should focus more on what is happening to detained undocumented youth in the United States.

Works Cited:

Frankel, Elizabeth M. 2011. “Detention and Deportation with Inadequate Due Process: The Devastating Consequences of Juvenile Involvement with Law Enforcement for Immigrant Youth.” Duke Forum for Law & Social Change, 3(63):63-107. Retrieved from

Navarro, Lisa Rodriguez. 1998. “An Analysis of Treatment of Unaccompanied Immigrant and Refuge Children in INS Detention and Other Forms of Institutionalized Custody.” Chicano-Latino Law Review 19:598-612.

Untitled Poem

Crossing from one side of the line to the other,
she was taken
left waiting.
From one prison —
poverty, fear
to another, called
“homeland security.”

for something that wouldn’t come
in a cell made of red tape, her broken dreams.

Looking for something else
finding no mercy
returned to the same.
Returned to an unfamiliar land
living on the streets
alone and cold
sold into labor
trafficked for sex.

Thinks to herself,
it could be so simple
in a world without
lines drawn in the sand.

Children and Human Rights Violations in Border Enforcement

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, as a result of political, armed struggle in Central America, the United States experienced a dramatic increase in undocumented, unaccompanied youth immigration (Byrne 2008:9). Most of these immigrant youth crossed the Mexico-United States border (Vera 2008:10). Migration has continued as a result of armed violence and poor economic conditions in Mexico and Central America. The now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) would once detain unaccompanied immigrant minors. Prior to 1984, these youth were processed relatively efficiently and usually released to “a responsible adult” before immigration court proceedings (Navarro 1998:591-592). This meant that unaccompanied, immigrant youth could be released to the care of foster homes or other charitable organizations.

Yet, after 1984, the INS instituted new restrictions — unaccompanied, undocumented youth could only be released to “a parent of lawful guardian” (Navarro 1998:592). The Supreme Court supported the INS’s restrictions in Reno v. Flores (Navarro 1998:597). Because many immigrant children and youth did not have family in the United States, most were shunted off to detention facilities, the conditions of which were often extremely poor.
With the passage of the Homeland Security Act in 2002, undocumented (and unaccompanied) youth now fall under the responsibility of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Byrne 2008:9). The DHS goes through a process to determine whether or not the immigrant is under the age of 18 and unaccompanied (Byrne 2008:18).

Most sources claim that conditions have greatly improved since the ORR has taken responsibility for undocumented, unaccompanied youth. These sources cite improved conditions, the use of low-security facilities and the availability of foster care as positive changes.

Yet the DHS’s priorities — national/homeland security — conflict with the ORR’s priorities — immigrant youth welfare. The DHS aims to apprehend and remove unaccompanied immigrant youth from the United States (Lopez 2010:23-24). On average, “over 7,200 unaccompanied immigrant children [are] detained by the U.S. each year” (Lopez 2010:6). Immigration agencies under the DHS may detain these children and youth on the Mexico-U.S. border or within the borders of the United States. Because the federal government of the United States has made a clear shift of its priorities toward “national security,” child welfare is often curtailed at the border.

Many children and youth who have have first-hand experiences with U.S. Border Patrol report severe abuses, including but not limited to: physical abuse, handcuffing, starvation, dehydration, cramped and uncomfortable conditions and refusal of youth’s requests for medical treatment (Byrne 2008:9).

Currently, the federal government of the United States is also pushing to privatize many immigration detention centers (Lopez 2010:39). Doing so reduces expenses and the burden of responsibility on the government’s part. However, privatization means that corporations can outright discard the federal government’s protective policies in favor of efficiency, which often means an increase in child abuse.

The repatriation of undocumented immigrant youth is another area of U.S. immigration policy that deserves attention. In repatriating immigrant youth (returning immigrant youth to their home countries), the DHS often reintroduce youth to dangerous conditions including, but not limited to, increases in poverty and violence, and homelessness (Thompson 2008:55). For repatriated immigrant youth, there is also a significantly higher risk of being subjected to human trafficking, commonly for labor or sex (Thompson 2008:53).


Byrne, Olga. 2008. Unaccompanied Children in the United States: A Literature Review.     New York: Vera Institute of Justice.

Lopez, Alejandra. 2010. “Seeking ‘Alternatives to Detention’: Unaccompanied     Immigrant Children in the U.S. Immigration System.” Honors College Theses.     Paper 97.

Navarro, Lisa Rodriquez. 1998. “An analysis of Treatment of Unaccompanied Immigrant     and Refugee Children in INS Detention and other forms of Institutionalized     Custody.”

Thompson, Amy. 2008. A Child Alone and Without Papers: A report on the return and     repatriation of unaccompanied undocumented children by the United States.     Austin, TX: Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Factors Affecting Educational Success of the Children of Immigrants

Education is a key aspect of assimilation into the American mainstream. It has been long believed that America’s K-12 education has been the key for upward mobility of children of immigrants (). This was the case during the nineteenth century, as the white European immigrants were expected to “move ahead” and get “Americanized”  through the public school system; which they did, as they were largely absorbed into the nation’s major social and political institutions within a couple of generations and became upwardly mobile over time” (). Although this “linear model” of assimilation was successful—largely due to educational success—for the European wave of immigrants in the nineteenth century, the model is not applicable to the current children of immigrants due to many factors such as language, stereotypes based on educational success of older generations, and socioeconomic status.

Language is an enormous factor of educational success. In the United States, it is virtually impossible to finish school without knowledge of English. Many extremely intelligent children of immigrants fail to have any success in school simply because they do not know the language. Mexican immigrants are especially notorious for poor educational attainment; only 39.8 percent of Mexican born men have a high school diploma (Batalova 2008). Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are not proficient in English, as almost 75 percent of Mexican immigrants reported speaking English less than very well (Batalova 2008). Although these statistics largely represent Mexican born adult immigrants, the mere fact that the children of these immigrants will have parents who cannot speak English can threaten to hinder their English development. Language is not the only factor that can affect educational success; the educational success of prior generations can also play a tremendous role in the educational success of current children of immigrants.

The educational success of prior generations is an extremely important determinant of the educational success of current generations for numerous reasons; especially the stereotypes developed by native citizens; society will naturally develop stereotypes based on their first impressions. If an older generation of an immigrant group comes to America and rapidly achieves educational success, the later generations will most likely obtain benefits from society due to the positive impression made by the older generation. This is very evident today as for many generations; Asian immigrants have gained a reputation to strive academically. Due to this reputation, educational institutions will make greater investments in Asian immigrants than they would for Mexican immigrants; who suffer from stereotypes of low educational attainment; stereotypes that were developed based on the low economic success of earlier generations of Mexican immigrants (Crosnoe 2011).

Socioeconomic status is also a tremendous factor concerning education attainment for immigrant children. It is significantly harder for children of immigrants with low socioeconomic status to be successful educationally for many reasons. Firstly, low socioeconomic status increases stress and increases the possibility of distractions. Low socioeconomic status also increases the possibility that the children will have to drop out of school and get jobs (very low wage jobs due to little to no educational attainment) to help support their families. This continues to negatively affect numerous immigrant children as they feel as though they have no choice but to abandon their educational careers in order to help their families survive.

Educational success of children of immigrants is a very complex subject that is based on numerous factors. Knowledge of the English language, stereotypes based on educational success of older generations, and socioeconomic status are just three of many other factors that affect the educational outcomes of different immigrant groups.


Batalova, Jeanne. Apr. 2008. “Migration Information Source – Mexican Immigrants in the United States.” The Migration Information Source. <>.

Crosnoe, Robert, and Ruth N. Lopez Turley. 2011. K-12 Educational Outcomes of Immigrant Youth. Rep. 1st ed. Vol. 21.

Remember, I am Human Too!


I have dreams of building my family a home

something we never had

but a dream we have always wanted

A home where we could run free

free from hate and shame

free from the names you gave us:

the immigrant

the illegal

the unwanted alien,

the uninvited people that could never and who should never belong.

But our home would be different!

It will care for us

nourish us

protect us

teach us

A home that I know on-lookers would be proud of.

This home would tower over injustice

shield US from bigotry

illuminate OUR worthiness

and welcome ALL who wish to be set free.

Why should we continue to live in fear,

away from those we love and from those who love us?

Why should we be different, without a place to call OUR home?

Maybe it’ll take me years to build this home for my family

Maybe they will never be able to live and see this beautiful home…

But it is sad that I should build this home alone

Its is even sadder to know that I face a double-edged sword:

building this home is a burden I have to carry, but a responsibility that I will have to do.

and I am prepared.

Others like me are also prepared

to build our home … together.

But I wonder, why should this be a dream?

Before you answer

just please remember,

that I am human too.



Peace & Love.


Secure Communities

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.”

New York Immigration Coalition.

Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

The Boston Globe. “Feds to activate Secure Communities.”

U.S Immigrant and Customs Enforcement. Overview.

U.S Immigrant and Customs Enforcement. Secure Communities.