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Know Your Rights
Source: Drum Major Institute
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Obama’s Immigration Enforcement Approach Hurting NYC

Instead of focusing on reforming our broken immigration system, the Obama
administration has chosen to expand
and renew
flawed and inhumane
enforcement practices established by the Bush administration.

Communities is one of the enforcement programs that the administration has
decided to expand, which is projected to cost
about $1 billion a year. The program allows local enforcement officials to
check fingerprints taken at local jails with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to ICE, the program aims at deporting immigrants who have committed
crimes. But the National Immigration Law Center explains
that in practice the program applies to immigrants regardless of guilt or
innocence, how or why they were arrested, and whether or not their arrests were
based on racial or ethnic profiling or were just a pretext for checking
immigration status.

The impact of Secure Communities is being felt even in pro-immigrant
localities like New York City. New York Department of
Correction usually provides a list of foreign-born detainees at Rikers
Island to ICE. According to data
in a Freedom of Information Act request by lawyers at the Immigrant
Justice Clinic of Cardozo School of Law, an estimated 4,000 foreign-born
Rikers Island detainees are put into deportation proceedings each year. More
than three quarters of these detainees have yet to be convicted and are awaiting

Peter L. Markowitz, director of the Immigrant Justice Center at Cardozo says:

Immigration agents have sometimes used "coercive and deceitful
tactics" in questioning foreign-born pretrial detainees, effectively denying
them their constitutional rights to be presumed innocent, to remain silent and
to be represented by a lawyer. These tactics affect foreign-born United States
citizens as well as unauthorized immigrants and legal residents subject to

This week, New York City immigrant and civil rights advocates** accompanied by
more than 150 community members
launched a campaign to pressure City Council to decline ICE access to pretrial detainees
at Rikers.

In a recent immigration
meeting, the Secretary of Homeland Security and President Obama reiterated
their commitment to immigration reform. But their commitment and promises are
just empty words. Clearly, the administration’s priority is to enforce flawed
enforcement practices that only inflict suffering and fear in immigrant
communities. To prove its commitment to reform, the administration must deliver
concrete actions to improve a system that is in crisis and out of control.  

**Including Make the Road New York