Criticism of the Obama Administration’s Secure Communities deportation program has reached a new apex, as elected officials and law enforcement leaders offer serious rebukes of the program and immigrant communities and newspaper editorial boards call for it to be scrapped altogether.
Among the recent developments:
Communities Say that “Secure Communities” Actually Creates Insecure Communities: Immigration advocates and community representatives from six major cities are engaged in a campaign of rallies and public hearings to expose the real public safety concerns about this deportation dragnet program. As the Associated Press reported on yesterday’s Los Angeles “Task Force” hearing, “Immigrants who say they were hauled into jail for selling ice cream without a permit and for reporting being the victim of domestic violence had one message for a federal government task force assigned to review an information-sharing effort that gives immigration authorities access to the fingerprints of arrestees. End the program.” As Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), stated, “From the beginning, [Secure Communities] has been shrouded in lies and deception, and it is increasingly clear that its stated aim of targeting serious criminals was just a smokescreen for achieving record numbers of deportations for an enforcement-only approach.”
The More Law Enforcement Learns, The Less They Like Secure Communities: The New York Times reported that Boston’s Police Commissioner Edward Davis “had been a Secure Communities supporter, because his records showed that it had removed many violent criminal immigrants from Boston jails. But he concluded from the new figures that immigration officials had misled him.” Said Commissioner Davis, “They specifically told us they would not be removing people with traffic offenses. They said they wouldn’t and now they have…This is a throwback to the bad old days of the federal agencies before 9/11, when we did not have cooperation. It is really disconcerting that they are not at all concerned about our precarious situation with immigrant communities.” Commissioner Davis’s comments echo those of many other law enforcement figures, who recognize the damage that Secure Communities does to effective community policing because it makes immigrant crime victims fearful of any contact with the police.
Elected Officials Speak Out Against S-COMM – Then Have Their Hands Slapped: Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unilaterally cancelled its Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) on Secure Communities (S-COMM), an immigration enforcement program of the Obama administration that was sold to state governments as a way to identify and deport serious criminals. Over the past several months, Governor Patrick Quinn (IL), Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Governor Deval Patrick (MA) suspended their involvement with S-COMM, citing data that the program is deporting large numbers of non-criminals and destroying the relationship between police and the immigrant community that is needed to bring criminals to justice. However, just as states were making headlines for their opposition to the program, DHS announced it would unilaterally impose this controversial program on all jurisdictions with or without their consent.
Editorials Slamming S-COMM and Obama Administration Leadership on Immigration: The New York Times editorialized over the weekend that the program fits in with “the Obama way on immigration. He talks softly of giving hard-working illegal immigrants a chance to get out of the shadows and get right with the law, but has achieved nothing, through legislation or executive action, that would allow that to happen. All the while, the administration has moved to ramp up deportations, expanding the brutal efficiency of a system that Mr. Obama has acknowledged is broken, arbitrary and unjust.” TheLos Angeles Times took a similar tone in their editorial, writing, “The president has publicly called for an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system to give those who work hard but are illegally in the country a chance to remain here legally. Yet his administration has failed to curb a program that deports many of the very people he says deserve a chance to stay. The president’s leadership on immigration has been anemic. He can’t solve the problem alone, but he has done little beyond delivering speeches blaming Congress. At the very least, Obama should shelve Secure Communities and stop making matters worse.”
The intensity of the oppostion to Secure Communities is increasing. The next “Task Force” hearing is in Chicago on Wednesday where it’s only going to get louder.
It’s obvious that Secure Communities has become a major public safety concern. What’s also increasingly clear is that the flawed DHS program has become a major political problem for the Obama administration. Advocates understand that Secure Communities has played a critical role in the Obama Administration’s record-breaking deportations of undocumented immigrants. And, it’s not sitting well. Not at all.