New York, NY Council Members Rodriguez, Dromm, Reyna, Mark-Viverito, and Williams rallied in front of 26 Federal Plaza with immigration advocates, including Make the Road New York and the New York Immigration Coalition, today in support of two resolutions being introduced at the City Council later that day. The first resolution, sponsored by Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Diana Reyna, calls on Governor Paterson to immediately rescind the Secure Communities Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Division of Criminal Justice Services earlier this year. This program would require local law enforcement agencies to forward the fingerprints of every arrested person to the Department of Homeland Securitys biometric identification system, and then transfer those suspected of being deported into the detention and deportation system.
The second resolution, also introduced by Rodriguez, calls on Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo to continue the Immigrant Pardon Board that was first established by Governor Paterson this year. The first of its kind, the Immigrant Pardon Board was established in May 2010, the same month that the Governors office also signed the Secure Communities Memorandum of Agreement, in order to review pardon applications of legal permanent residents facing deportation as a result of criminal convictions if they have been fully rehabilitated and are now positive contributors to society. Both of these resolutions are aimed at reducing the record number of unjust deportations of immigrants who have committed minor, non-violent crimes and are positive and constructive members of society.
Governor Paterson has been a great leader for communities of color and for immigration reform during his time in the office. From the creation of the Immigrant Pardon Board earlier this year to his aggressive stance against the Arizona State Bill 1070, he has demonstrated his commitment to protecting those hard-working, upstanding individuals who are more and more frequently unfairly caught up in the black hole of immigration detention and deportation. We hope that his legacy will not be tarnished by the implementation of Secure Communities in our state, and we also hope that Governor Cuomo will continue to work for those same goals, especially by continuing and expanding the Immigrant Pardon Board, said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
Ruth Jara, member of Make the Road New York and an immigrant from Ecuador, "New York City is funneling 3,000-4,000 New Yorkers a year from DOC custody into the black hole of immigration detention. With Secure Communities on the horizon, the number of New Yorkers who will be separated from their families will increase. Gov. Patterson has a long history of fighting against racial profiling and we ask him to take one last stand for our communities and rescind the State’s agreement with ICE immediately."
I urge the City Council to pass these resolutions that call for humanitarian and fair policies for immigrant communities. Specifically, the State should immediately withdraw its agreement to implement Secure Communities, a confused and punitive Bush-era program that will inevitably hurt innocent and hard-working New Yorkers. In addition, the State must continue the Immigrant Pardon Board to allow just relief for immigrants who are contributing members of our society. I commend the councilmember co-sponsors for highlighting these critical issues, said Borough President Scott Stringer.
"Immigration policies such as the Secure Communities program will lead to unjust detentions and deportations that will only make for insecure communities and destabilize our immigrant families," said New York City Council Member and Chair of the Immigration Committee, Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). "That is why I’m calling on Governor Paterson to renew his commitment to support our immigrant community and immediately rescind the Secure Communities program."
Deportation is not an administrative remedy, it is a cruel punishment for immigrants whove built a life in our Country, said Council Member Diana Reyna. No one should have to be sent away from their family, home and community for a minor infraction or misdemeanor. The United States is a tolerant society, one that provides paths for lawful citizenship, however our immigration system is broken and we need comprehensive reform protecting families, not tearing them apart.
"Secure Communities will have grave consequences for our human and civil rights. By requiring police to send fingerprints to the DHS database, this program will make communities view police as immigration agents. There are currently no safeguards in place to protect our communities from racial profiling, fiscal liabilities, or any other problems from this program. New York needs to stand up for our rights and rescind this agreement with ICE immediately, said Angela Fernandez, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
We thank Councilmember Rodriguez for spearheading this resolution urging the continuation and expansion of the Immigrant Pardon Board. For far too long, our immigration system has pursued broad-based enforcement-only policies that have torn apart communities, deporting many hard-working immigrants and family members who pose no threat to public safety. The continuation of the special pardon panel would help ensure that those who deserve to stay here can, and serves as a welcome counterpoint to the trend across the country of increasingly punitive, anti-immigrant measures that ill-serve the interests of our nation, said Chung-wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition
A letter from 13 NYC Council Members was sent to Governor Paterson yesterday urging him to rescind the Memorandum of Agreement establishing the Secure Communities Program.