For Immediate Release // Excuse cross-posting // Please share
Contact: SG Sarmiento, NDLON, 202-746-2099
The Circus in Congress Will Not Distract Growing Calls For Immigrant Equality
In reaction to the most recent spectacle in Congress and the publication of the President’s budget request, Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON, issued the following statement:
“For years, lawmakers in Washington, DC, were content to block progress on immigration reform, but now it seems some are seizing upon congressional dysfunction in a shameful- yet ultimately futile- effort to move the country backwards, presumably to an era denying equal protection under the law.
“Racism manifests itself in many forms, and we will call out Republican nativism, xenophobia, and intolerance for what it is in hopes that the regressive voices within the Republican Party will be shunned and eventually silenced.
“But we will not be distracted or deterred from making progress in defense of immigrants’ rights. And while this includes ensuring a successful implementation of new protections for some immigrants, it will also include speaking out against a White House budget that maintains a draconian deportation regime that hyper-modernizes the enforcement of outdated and unjust laws.
“Now is not the time for the Obama Administration to double the funding for surveillance, detention, and prosecution of precarious immigrants, nor is it time for the Administration to double-down on failed enforcement initiatives that criminalize our communities and incentivize civil rights violations by local police. “Instead, now is the time to demand that every available option be utilized using existing laws at the federal, state, and local levels to mitigate the grave injustice caused by the broken political process in Washington. Our goal remains the same: Not one more deportation. Not one more worker or family criminalized. And not one more day without equality.”
Council Plans Protections to Ensure Bright Line Between Law Enforcement and Wrongful Immigration Policy
Washington DC: On Monday elected officials and community members came together to denounce the forced activation of the controversial “Secure Communities” federal deportation program in District of Columbia. At the press conference, councilmembers also pledged their commitment to enact the Immigration Detainer Compliance Act that will mitigate the impacts of the “Secure Communities” program.
The act would limit Immigration and Customs Enforcement's use of District facilities and equipment and also narrows S-Comm’s deportation dragnet by only responding to immigration detention requests for individuals who are over 18 and have been convicted of a dangerous crime. The Act which, which was unanimously co-sponsored by all DC councilmembers, builds upon the Mayor’s Order 2011-174 (October 19, 2011) which prohibits all public safety agencies from inquiring about individuals’ immigration status or transmit information about immigration status.
NDLON Calls on Sec. Napolitano to Stop Fearmongering
and Start Addressing Civil Rights Crisis in DHS Immigration Policy
Chicago, IL. 05.16.2012.
Yesterday, WBEZ released a report on recidivism of individuals released under Cook County's progressive immigration detainer policy, passed in response to dragnet federal immigration programs. The study "finds no evidence that inmates freed from jail against the wishes of immigration authorities reoffend or jump bail more than other freed inmates do." In response, Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:
(Los Angeles) Today, advocates in California made public hundreds of emails between federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and California officials regarding the “activation” of California’s cities and counties in ICE’s controversial “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) program, which ensnares local police in federal immigration enforcement efforts. The documents were obtained by the National Day Laborer Organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Cardozo Immigrant Justice Clinic through Freedom of Information Act litigation.
The emails reveal a federal agency in state of disarray, and a chorus of questions and complaints from California cities and counties wary of thrusting their police into the role of immigration enforcers.
“The domino effect is starting,” wrote an unidentified ICE official on May 25, 2010.(1) Questions about S-Comm were rolling in after strong opposition from San Francisco and Santa Clara County. Marin County’s Juvenile Probation Office was “quite agitated about [S-Comm] being ‘forced’ on them.”(2) San Mateo and Riverside County were requesting clarification on how they could opt-out of the program.(3) Sonoma County representatives were “upset” about receiving misleading information from ICE.(4) The ICE official frantically sought “messaging that can help . . . keep them on board.”(5)
“The ‘messaging’ ICE settled on, the emails show, centered on deliberately misleading California officials – from county sheriffs to Congressional representatives – about S-Comm’s voluntary nature, and about what ‘opting out’ of the program entailed,” explains Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. Information provided to Santa Clara County in May 2010 was approved over the phone, rather than in writing, to “give them plausible deniability if this Santa Clara thing goes south.”(6) Top-level ICE officers provided vastly different definitions of opt out to concerned California officials, some of which were purposely crafted to be misleading.(7) An FBI employee observing the process noted, “It amazes me that we are all in the same room and he thinks this [opt out messaging] is consistent.”(8)
Confusion about S-Comm went beyond the feasibility of opting out. “The emails also reveal confusion about the legal authority for the program and its true focus” says Angela Chan, Staff Attorney with the Asian Law Caucus. Despite concerns raised by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown as early as September 2010 about whether S-Comm was picking up minor offenders and traffic violators, ICE publicly insisted that S-comm focused on deporting convicted criminals.(9)
ICE officials also scrambled to identify legal authority for the program. In early presentations to the California Department of Justice, they apparently relied on a section of Proposition 187 that had been struck down by California Courts as unconstitutional.(10) In fact, later emails clarify, “There is no legislation that makes [Secure Communities] mandatory."(11)
The Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act (“TRUST ACT”), currently scheduled to be heard in the public safety committee of the California Assembly on April 26th, aims to fix the ways that S-Comm’s misleading focus, over-broad reach and lack of transparency have eroded trust between police and immigrant communities and sparked considerable open government concerns. The TRUST Act would honor the right of local governments to opt out of the troubled S-Comm program. The Act also sets basic safeguards for those that do participate in the program to protect against racial profiling, protect the rights of children and domestic violence survivors, and upholds the right to a day in court by only reporting for deportation individuals convicted, not merely accused, of crimes.
Documents Can Be Found at http://bit.ly/scomm-foia-ca
1. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0003246.
3. Id.; ICE FOIA 10-2674.0007167.
4. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0003815.
5. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0003246.
6. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0007174.
7. Compare 10-2674.0007229 (S-Comm Director David Venturella’s deliberately misleading definition of opt out for San Francisco Sheriff Hennessey) with 10-2674.0005151 (S-Comm Deputy Director Marc Rapp’s contrary definition of opt out, given to Congressional representatives the same week).
8. FBI SC 1726.
9. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0007228; 10-2674.0006127-6128.
10. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0007308.
11. ICE FOIA 10-2674.0005568. ...
Today, the President held a White House meeting on Immigration Reform In response, Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said,
"While we appreciate the President's effort to keep immigration reform on the national agenda, his actions belie his intent. We're greatly disappointed that the meeting didn't include more voices of immigrants at the table, including representatives of directly affected communities especially the people in the state of Arizona and Georgia where there is a modern day human rights crisis. If the President genuinely wanted to fix the broken immigration system, he would respond to the growing chorus of voices calling for the suspension of the secure communities program and move to legalize instead of further criminalize our immigrant communities."...
Ammiano bill would let localities out of troubled S-Comm immigration program;
Testimony from Sheriff, S-comm victims to show program’s harm to public safety
What: Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing on AB 1081 (Ammiano), the TRUST Act, which would honor the right of local governments to opt out of ICE’s controversial “Secure” Communities or S-Comm Program and set basic standards for jurisdictions that choose to participate.
When: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
* Interview availability at 10:30 AM
* Hearing begins at 9:30; TRUST Act may be heard any time during the hearing.
Where: Room 126, California State Capitol, Sacramento; Interview availability in hallway outside room.
Who: (Available at 10:30 AM)
· San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey
· Retired Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas
· Norma – domestic violence victim facing deportation due to S-Comm
· Another person directly impacted by S-Comm (details to be released Tuesday.)
Note that Asm. Ammiano will be available for comment after the conclusion of the hearing.
Media visuals: Dozens of supporters packing the halls, wearing “Stop S-Comm” t-shirts and stickers, dramatic testimony from immigrants who have experienced hardship and fear due to S-Comm
Background: As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) faces a growing storm of criticism from public officials over its troubled S-Comm program, the Assembly Public Safety Committee will hear a bill that would grant decision-making power to local governments on whether, and how, to relate to the controversial initiative.
The hearing takes place days after Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D- San Jose) called for an investigation into ICE officials’ “dissembling and deceiving” conduct on the question of whether local governments were required to participate in the burdensome program. According to Rep. Lofgren, ICE was “not honest with the local governments or with me."
Lofgren’s forceful criticism followed the disclosure of hundreds of...
Following Lofgren Investigation, former Arizona Governor Napolitano Flies to California to Defend Discredited Program
(Sacramento, CA) The TRUST Act (AB 1081) sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano passed out of the California public safety committee with all Democrats voting to support it. The bill seeks to repair the damaging impacts of the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency's "Secure Communities" program. The program has been widely discredited across the country due to the blatant dishonesty exposed in a series of internal emails released by advocates who received them only through litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. Stories of domestic violence survivors and high rates of people still presumed to be innocent being placed into deportation proceedings via its finger-print sharing mechanism further demonstrated how the ICE program's actual operations are far outside of its Congressional mandate. On Tuesday, a US Citizen testified about being falsely jailed because of the program.
Such developments led California Congresswoman Lofgren to call for an investigation into the program and into how involved ICE Director and DHS Secretary Napolitano may have been in its implementation.
Chris Newman of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network explains, "California will not allow the Arizonification of its law enforcement agencies. The TRUST Act is a modest measure meant to bring some transparency and confidence back to law enforcement after ICE's rogue effort to enlist police as frontline immigration enforcers. We are confident California lawmakers will step up and create civil rights safeguards that protect our community, even if DHS officials are content to fight among themselves about a program no one fully understands." ...
Today California Representative Zoe Lofgren (16th District) called on the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton, as well as the
Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPD) to investigate ICE’s Secure Communities fingerprint-
sharing program in two separate letters. Rights groups NDLON, CCR and Cardozo support Lofgren’s call for an investigation into Secure Communities and whether local
jurisdictions and states have the ability to “opt out” of the program.
In her letter to the OPD, Lofgren wrote: “It is unacceptable for government officials to essentially lie to local governments, Members of Congress, and the public…It is critically important you thoroughly investigate this matter and that any misconduct result in real consequences.”
Secure Communities has been criticized and condemned throughout the country since it began in 2008. Through to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by NDLON,
CCR and Cardozo in April 2010, a series of documents and internal emails have been released by advocates which have shown dishonesty and confusion among federal and
state officials charged with implementing the program.
"It's a good thing the former governor of Arizona - the one who originally procured Sheriff Joe Arpaio's 287(g) contract in the first place - doesn't get to rule by decree
in Washington, DC,” said Chris Newman, Legal Director for National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
For more information on the FOIA lawsuit, please visit http://ccrjustice.org/secure-communities or http://uncoverthetruth.org....
Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement notifying the agency that because of its indiscriminate use of the "Secure Communities" deportation program, the State is ending its participation in the program. The letter states "that the implementation of the Secure Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose of the MOA... By ICE's own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime." The Governor's letter concludes, "With this termination, no new counties in Illinois can be activated and those counties that were previously activated... must be deactivated and removed from the Secure Communities program."
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, praised the Governor's action: "Governor Quinn took the state of Illinois one step forward toward sensible solutions for our broken immigration system. We need more policies like the Illinois DREAM Act, which the Senate passed today, not indiscriminate and reckless enforcement."
The Governor's letter comes in the wake of mounting criticism of the "Secure Communities" program for what U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California describes as outright deception in its implementation and for the widely reported use of the program to deport people still presumed to be innocent despite the program's mission of focusing on "convicted dangerous criminals."
The Illinois legislature is scheduled to weigh in on the program with a pending vote on the Smart Enforcement Act, which would regulate and require reporting on the program.
Chris Newman from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network concluded," DHS has been reckless and dishonest in its rapid expansion of a program that commandeers scare local law enforcement resources, endangers community safety, and erodes trust in law enforcement. The simple fact is DHS cannot make law and policy by decree, and Governor Quinn has taken appropriate action to protect the residents of Illinois."...
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.