FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // excuse cross-posting
May 16, 2014
150+ Civil and Immigrants Rights Organizations Call on
DHS Sec. Johnson to End Use of ICE Holds
As the President moves to “reboot” Secure Communities,
advocates demand complete end to key component of the program
May 16, 2014, Washington, DC — A day after President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced they would take a “fresh look” at the Secure Communities deportation program—widely criticized for contributing to rampant racial profiling and an unprecedented level of deportations—over 150 organizations delivered a letter to the Secretary demanding an end to ICE holds, a key component of the program.
Over 150 immigrant, labor, faith, and civil rights organizations, including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), endorsed the letter, which asks Secretary Johnson to use his “existing legal authority to end ICE’s use of holds to enlist local police as so-called ‘force-multipliers’ that amplify the enforcement of unjust immigration laws.” ICE holds are requests from ICE to local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals suspected of civil immigration violations; as part of the Secure Communities program (S-Comm), they have led to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of individuals since President Obama took office.
The letter comes just weeks after the Acting Inspector General of DHS was suspended for corruption, including altering a report that was supposed to address criticism of S-Comm. Congresswoman Roybal-Allard has called for a new investigation, noting that DHS has consistently failed to ensure appropriate “accountability of the flawed Secure Communities program.” To date, over 60 jurisdictions across the country have passed policies limiting or ending submission to ICE holds. The national trend comes as a response to S-Comm’s indiscriminate separation of families and chilling effect on immigrant communities’ willingness to reach out to police for assistance. Most recently, dozens of counties across three states—Oregon, Washington, and Colorado—have announced that they will no longer respond to ICE holds following a federal district court decision that held that detaining an individual on the basis of an ICE hold violates the Fourth Amendment.
On April 17, 19 activists were arrested in a civil disobedience at the Suffolk Detention Center in Boston, MA calling for an end to S-Comm and condemning the President’s record 2 million deportations since taking office.
“Among the irreparable problems with S-Comm is the fact that it has been unsuccessfully rebooted so many times that it is now impossible for a ‘fresh start’, which is why the consensus view is that it should be scrapped entirely,” said Salvador G. Sarmiento of NDLON. “And we cannot start to talk about humane policies while these programs continue to instill fear in immigrant communities and permit widespread abuse.”