In reaction to President's speech on immigration tonight at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Gala, Pablo Alvarado issued the following statement:
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President's Executive Action Can Lead by Example for Congress
Washington, DC. - Following a chorus of growing criticism over the President's Secure Communities (S-Comm) policy, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus delivered a letter to the White House calling on the Administration to place a moratorium on the program that “is not living up to its name,” according to the Caucus.
Secure Communities (SCOMM) was initially described as a program to identify and deport immigrants found guilty of serious crimes. The program enlists local police into federal immigration enforcement by screening all fingerprints of those booked in local jails through the federal ICE database. Data revealed through a federal lawsuit filed by civil rights groups shows the program fails to live up to its stated intention, as the program deports large groups of people without any convictions or convicted of only minor offenses. According to the CHC letter, “Evidence reveals not only a striking dissonance between the program’s stated purpose of removing dangerous criminals and it’s actual effect; it also suggests that S-Comm may endager the public, particularly among communities of color…”
Lawmakers in Congress and in states throughout the country say ICE officials lied about program details and requirements at its early stages. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California has described the implementation of the program as "dissembling and deceiving" and has called for an Inspector General (IG) investigation with the support of Senator Menendez. The call is reminiscent of another IG report on SCOMM's predecessor, the 287(g) program made famous by Joe Arpaio in Arizona, which showed a program riddled with flaws that was too broken to be fixed.
On May 4th, the Governor of Illinois terminated his state's participation in the program. In California, Assemblyman Ammiano introduced the TRUST Act to reform and regulate the program. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, large scale rallies have taken place in opposition to the program.
Thus the Caucus states, “We appreciate and steadfastly support your efforts to reform broken immigration laws and to strengthen national security and public safety. Unfortunately, neither of these goals are served or advanced by the S-Comm policy in its current form…
We are not convinced the program is achieving its stated goals, and we see nothing in the management and oversight of S-Comm that convinces us that these risks have been adequately addressed in the latest incarnation of local police immigration enforcement…
For these reasons, we request an immediate freeze of S-Comm pending a thorough review.”
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network whose organization along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law are litigants in a FOIA suit with the agency stated:
“SCOMM has become a symbol of the President's broken promises on immigration reform. We are all painfully aware of the poisonous political climate on immigration reform, but there is simply no excuse for the President to deploy a policy that criminalizes immigrants, erodes our civil rights, and destroys community safety. The policy is unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped immediately.
There is a domestic human rights crisis in Arizona and elsewhere, on display to the world, because of the foolish entanglement of police in immigration enforcement. To allow- and advance- a policy that repeats Arizona’s mistakes across the whole country would be a betrayal.
The President must change direction immediately, through actions and not mere words. His first steps on the road to reform can- and must- be heeding the Hispanic Caucus’ call and putting S-Comm on ice.”
See below for Letter from Rep. Gutierrez to Governor Quinn and for for Governor Quinn's letter to ICE.
(Los Angeles) Following President's speech on immigration, Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network made the following statement:
"Immigration reform has been on the national agenda for ten years, and we are mindful the politics have never been more poisonous. However, we hope the President will use his political capital and his persuasive powers to help steer the debate back to a more productive course. After all, the loud voices who favor punishing this generation's Americans-in-Waiting are the very same people who suspected the President himself was an undocumented immigrant. It's time to move beyond the Arizonification of American politics. The nation's first African American president has a unique opportunity to take racism out of the political discourse on immigration.
Like Congressman Luis Gutierrez though, we all want to feel the same sense of hope and optimism we felt in 2008. However, words alone will no longer be enough. The President must earn Latinos' support through actions that move the country toward a policy granting us political equality, through the regularization of our immigrant families' status. The goal contained in Arizona's SB1070, the criminalization of immigrants, is mutually exclusive with the goal of legalization. While Republicans have coelesced on a nativist position that will be shamed by history, it is not sufficient for the President to simply blame Congress for inaction. The President must lead by example, and we will measure his commitment to immigration reform by taking stock of his actions.If the President seriously wants to move the debate forward, he can start by answering the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's call to freeze the misguided Secure Communities as a first step.*"
Pablo Alvarado is available for media inquiries.
NDLON staff is also available for interviews on Secure Communities FOIA litigation, Arizona work, and to provide reporters access to day laborers so their voices can be included.
* In a letter sent Thursday, May 5th, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called on the President to place a moratorium on SCOMM saying, "[it] will contribute to the criminalization of immigrant families by casting them under a cloud of suspicion and by further conflating civil immigration violations with criminal conduct."
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network represents 43 member organizations and more than 120,000 corner day laborers throughout the country. The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org