New Documents Show Se Communities Fuels FBI’s Rapidly Expanding Surveillance System While Ignoring States’ Concer

November 10, 2011, New York  – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), and the Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic released internal government documents concerning the controversial Se Communities program (S-Comm), newly obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.  Advocates say the documents show that S-Comm, already beleaguered with calls for termination, caused serious internal debate within the FBI at the same time that it served as pretext for the agency to rapidly expand its Next Generation Identification (NGI) initiative, which seeks to collect and distribute massive amounts of biometric information on citizens and noncitizens alike.  


An annotated index to the documents is available here.


The new documents reveal that FBI Assistant Director Jerome Pender expressed doubts about S-Comm’s effect on the FBI’s relationship with states and localities, and described the FBI’s position in the S-Comm controversy as “being stuck in the middle of a nuclear war.”  Pender wrote:  “I don’t see how we can use [fingerprint] data in a way the owner explicitly bans.  This could cause the whole CJIS model [of information sharing between the FBI and states and localities] to implode.” (Email chain between Deputy Assistant Director of CJIS’s Operations Branch, Jerome Pender, CJIS Assistant Director, Daniel Roberts, Deputy Assistant Director, Stephen Morris, and other FBI officials, May 10, 2011, FBI-SC-FPL-00487-488).


However, the FBI continued to ignore state and local partners’ demands to limit the use of their data and instead continued to press for S-Comm to be mandatory and expanded data sharing to other domestic agencies and foreign governments.


Said Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Sunita Patel, “It is now crystal clear that the FBI is using Se Communities to experiment on biometric-based surveillance. In pushing for S-Comm and interoperability to be mandatory, the FBI has prioritized collecting personal biometric data on citizens and non-citizens alike for its massive database ahead of the interests of its state and local partners. This is bad policy and no way to operate a federal agency.”


According to the documents, the FBI “recognizes a need to collect as much biometric data as possible . . . and to make this information accessible to all levels of law enforcement, including International agencies.” Accordingly, it “continues to work aggressively to build biometric databases that are comprehensive and international in scope.” (Interoperability Initiatives Unit, FBI CJIS, December 2010, SC-FBI-FPL-1143-1159, at 1143.)


Said Jessica Karp of NDLON, “The rise of the FBI’s surveillance system places all of our civil rights at risk.  As Se Communities breaks apart the sacred bond of immigrant families, NGI undermines the basic rights we hold as sacred in a democracy. It’s clear that the FBI and ICE’s pursuit of massive personal biometric data collection as a goal in itself tramples on the rights of individuals and states. Se Communities needs to be ended before more are trapped in its dragnet.”


Said Sonia Lin of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Cardozo School of Law, “In its support for mandatory S-Comm and push to expand NGI, the FBI has ignored serious concerns about community policing, the burden on local and state partners, privacy rights, and the increased risk of racial profiling.” 


Visit CCR’s NDLON v. ICE case page, or the joint website, for the text of the FOIA request, the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, other documents obtained through the litigation and all other relevant documents.



The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit; follow @theCCR.


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


The Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was founded in 2008 to provide quality pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants facing deportation. Under the supervision of experienced practitioners, law students in the Clinic represent individuals facing deportation and community-based organizations in public advocacy, media and litigation projects. Visit

Chicago Day Laborers Form Coop to Sell Organic Coffee

Chicago Day Laborers Form Coop to Sell Organic Coffee

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune (

Chicago Day Laborers Form Coop to Sell Organic Coffee CHICAGO – A group of Latino day laborers have founded Cafe Chicago, s a cooperative that imports organic coffee from Nicaragua, processes it and sells it creatively – and successfully – to improve their labor, economic and social prospects.

“We were looking for a different way to do business and the model came from Latin America,” Eric Rodriguez said in an interview with Efe.

Immigrants from Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico, along with several Puerto Ricans, pooled their money and know-how to survive in a labor market shaken by economic crisis.

“Cooperatives hold an important place in the countries we come from, and we believe that Cafe Chicago can support us over the long term,” said Rodriguez, the executive director of the Latino Union organization that advocates on behalf of day laborers in the Windy City.

Rodriguez, who has a degree in managing non-profits from Chicago’s North Park University, believes in “fair trade” through cooperatives that favor the “most vulnerable” sectors.

A prime example is Nicaragua’s Among Women Foundation, or FEM, a cooperative that produces and exports coffee and is also dedicated to education, health and promoting women’s rights.

FEM is located in Esteli province where most of the land is used for growing tobacco but also has room for 132 women to grow fine coffee there, as they have done since 1996.

Every month 1,500 pounds of green coffee beans are shipped to Chicago, where the workers at Cafe Chicago process them in a borrowed roaster they learned to use, package the coffee and sell it for $15 a pound, or $40 for 3 pounds.

The cooperative notes on its Web site the work of Tony and Ivan on the coffee roaster, Norberto who visits stores and markets looking for clients, and Marisol who handles the orders.

But also on the job are Manuel, Pablo, Patricio, Salvador, Jose, Armando, Hector, Jorge, Elisa, Jose Louis, Michael and David, who prefer not to give out their last names to avoid any possible immigration troubles.

Cafe Chicago’s profits go to support the Latino Union, which was organized in 2002 after a massive strike by day laborers that shut down the operations of 75 temp agencies where abuses had been reported.

The day laborers staged a hunger strike that prodded the Illinois legislature into passing a law regulating temporary work and giving those workers the right to organize and defend their rights in the workplace.

In December 2004 the Latino Union opened its first workers center, at Albany Park, as an alternative to the traditional “hiring on the corner.”

Employers looking for workers go to the center, discuss the price and sign a contract with the laborer.

According to the Latino Union, reports of stolen wages were slashed to 1 percent and the average wage increased 50 percent since the opening of the Albany Park Workers Center. EFE

Arizona Immigration Law Faces Lawsuit On Day-Laborer Statute

By JACQUES BILLEAUD   10/31/11 05:18 PM ET | Source:

clinic 2010 in Washington, DC. The two leaders were meeting for the first time since Brewer signed a controversial anti-immigration bill into law April 23. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)” src=”media/feedgator/images/2_e0d8f3ee7f2e6b4f1078acafe8398d70.jpg” alt=”Arizona Immigration Law Faces Lawsuit On Day-Laborer Statute” style=”border: 0px;” />

PHOENIX — Groups opposing Arizona’s immigration enforcement law have asked a federal judge to put a stop to a section of the statute that bans the blocking of traffic when people seek or offer day-labor services on streets.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other opponents filed a preliminary injunction request on Friday seeking to block enforcement of the provision, saying it unconstitutionally restricts the free speech rights of people who want to express their need for work. The request was filed in an existing lawsuit by the groups.

The state can’t justify the statewide ban based on scattered instances of solicitations creating traffic problems in Phoenix, they said, adding that there are already laws on the books to deal with people who block traffic.

The ban was among a handful of provisions in the law that were allowed to take effect after a July 2010 decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton halted enforcement of other, more controversial elements of the law. The blocked portions include a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question people’s immigration status if officers suspect they are in the country illegally.

Gov. Jan Brewer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Bolton’s ruling after she lost an appeal in a lower court.

Brewer’s lawyers have also opposed attempts to halt enforcement of the day-labor restrictions, which they argue are meant to confront safety concerns, as well as distractions to drivers, harassment to passers-by, trespassing and damage to property.

They told the court that day laborers congregate on roadsides in large groups, flagging down vehicles and often swarming those that stop. They also said day laborers in Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa and Fountain Hills leave behind water bottles, food wrappers and other trash.

Bolton previously denied an earlier request to block the day labor rules, but opponents were allowed to bring it up again after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a similar issue in September.

The appeals court had suspended a law from Redondo Beach, Calif., that banned day laborers from standing on public sidewalks while soliciting work from motorists. The court ruled the law violated workers’ free speech rights and was so broad that it was illegal for children to shout “car wash” to passing drivers.