City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Members and Immigrant Advocates Gather to Demand the Department of Homeland Security Halt the Activation of Secure Communities in New York City
City Hall – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, together with Committee on Immigration Chair Council Member Daniel Dromm, Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and Helen Diane Foster, along with Make the Road New York, Chung Wha- Hong of the New York Immigration Coalition, Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation, and a number of immigrant advocates, gathered today to demand the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) halt the activation of Secure Communities in New York City until the program is significantly reformed. Secure Communities requires fingerprints taken by local law enforcement officials to be automatically shared with DHS for crosscheck so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can determine whether the person arrested is deportable. If ICE determines that the person arrested is deportable, it may issue an immigration detainer that requests the local law enforcement agency to hold the arrestee for 48 hours so ICE can assume custody. Immigrant advocates first raised concerns regarding the program’s transparency, the potential that it would lead to racial and ethnic profiling, and its likely negative effect on community policing in 2008, when Secure Communities was announced. These concerns were reiterated in the report issued by the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Task Force on Secure Communities in September 2011. The efforts of DHS and ICE to respond to these concerns have been inadequate.
Joining the Speaker were Neisha Agarwal, Center for Popular Democracy, Donna Liberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Luis Garden Acosta of El Puente, Rev. Jeremy Del Rio of Community Solutions, Rev. Ray Rivera of the Latino Pastoral Action Center, Imam
Konate, Council of African Imams, Rev. Terry Troia of Project Hospitality, Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Onleilove Alston of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Immigrant Defense Project, Assocacion Tepeyac, Casa Mexico, Dominico-American Society of Queens,
Latino Commission on AIDS, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Hector Soto from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing
Development, Hector Figueroa of 32 BJ and the New York Youth Leadership Council.
“I am deeply troubled by and have always opposed the implementation of Secure Communities, in its current form, in New York City,” said Speaker Quinn. “Without changes to the program, it should not be implemented here. The message sent by Secure Communities is counter to the one that New York City sends to its immigrant communities.”
Despite Secure Communities’ stated focus on immigrants that pose a significant threat to public safety, it has led to the deportation of many immigrants who were arrested for minor offenses and non-violent crimes. If this program is brought to New York City, it will create fear in immigrant communities and corrode the bond between immigrants and local law enforcement.
“The misnamed Secure Communities initiative tears families apart, infringes on civil rights and fails to make our neighborhoods safer,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. “Programs like these are causing a spike in needless deportations and should be discontinued, immediately.”
“It is unconscionable that the federal government has moved forward with the Secure Communities deportation program even after the vehement objections of our city and state,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm, who is also the chair of the Council’s Committee on Immigration. “Rather than encouraging the cooperation necessary in order to keep our neighborhoods safe, this program will bring nothing more than destabilizing effects for a city that is supposed to be a beacon of hope for immigrants from all over the world.”
“The Department of Homeland Security should respect the State of New York’s request to opt-out of Secure Communities,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “A city like New York, where we welcome immigrant communities, should not be forced to turn our police stations into a clearinghouse for deportations. We have worked hard to build trust between immigrant communities and the police and have crafted a balanced policy that will protect immigrants from unjust deportations. Secure Communities will undo all of that progress. I urge the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security to reverse this decision to roll out Secure Communities nationwide.”
“Secure Communities does not make our community more secure. In fact, it does the opposite. Programs like this drive a wedge between our communities and local government, and nobody wins. New York took a strong stance when it suspended S-COMM and stood up for the dignity of all immigrants in the state. Today, ICE has shown it does not respect that stance,” said Pastor Ramon Almonte of Central Baptist Church, and a member of Make the Road New York.
“Immigrants like me took to the streets to show our opposition to S-COMM in New York and across the country,” said Cesar Palomeque, a member of Make the Road New York’s Immigration Committee in Queens. “The President must understand that these issues are about the respect the government has for our community, and they are of utmost importance to Latino voters like myself.”
“The activation of Secure Communities in New York, as well as in Massachusetts, is an affront to states that have made the legitimate and wise decision to keep local police out of the business of enforcing broken federal immigration policy,” said Andrew Friedman, Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “S-Comm undermines trust in the criminal justice system and tears families apart. New Yorkers stand in solidarity with cities and states across the country in denouncing the program’s corrosive impact on our communities.”
“New York City has a long history of embracing its immigrant communities and their contributions to the city’s diversity, culture, and economic strength,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We must say no to programs like Secure Communities that threaten core rights and hurt our city’s reputation as an international community.”
“We are deeply troubled by the rapid roll-out of Secure Communities nationally and DHS’s decision to implement it here in New York, in blatant disregard of Governor Cuomo’s opposition to it,” said Ms. Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, “and in blatant disregard of widespread concern that it infringes on civil rights and liberties and undermines public safety by eroding trust between the police and the communities they serve. We will continue to work with local and state lawmakers to take measures that counter the negative impact of this misguided program.”
“We are appalled that ICE now plans to steamroll through New York with ‘Secure Communities.’ New York has delivered the message loud and clear that this mass deportation program has no place anywhere in our country, much less our state,” said Michelle Fei, Co-Director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “Especially when policing practices are drawing increasing complaints and scrutiny, we cannot give police more power to funnel immigrants into an unjust immigration system. President Obama needs to terminate ‘Secure Communities’ right now.”
“When Governor Cuomo suspended ‘Secure Communities’ in New York, police and local leaders hoped that our communities’ safety could begin to be restored. If individuals are afraid to call law enforcement, our communities become less safe and we all suffer. This dangerous program once again threatens to violate the rights of all immigrants. ‘Secure Communities’ has no place in New York State and should be seen as a threat to the safety of all New Yorkers,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera
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