The Orwellian-named “Se” Communities deportation program was rolled out under a cloud of deception so thick that last year, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose declared that immigration officialslied to her and local governments about the program. Lofgren rightfully asked the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog, Office of Inspector General (OIG), to investigate. But last Friday, it became painfully clear that this “watchdog” no longer has any teeth, and that solutions like California’s TRUST Act are more urgent than ever. Hours after OIG issued two tepid reports this morning whose recommendations paper over the program’s serious safety and civil rights violations, news broke that the so-called watchdog itself isunder investigation by the FBI and US Dept. of Justice.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren says the federal Se Communities law should be improved before it is fully implemented by the end of next year. Warren said today that the law as it currently stands does not focus on violent offenders and would create barriers between immigrant communities and local police. The Harvard Law School professor spoke to reporters after appearing at a Statehouse event held by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition. Under Se Communities, look fingerprints taken from a crime suspect by local police would be turned over to federal authorities, who could bring deportation proceedings if the person was in the U.S. illegally. – Boston Herald
Decenas de personas protestaron hoy en Maryland contra el programa Comunidades Seguras, view que faculta a policías locales a cooperar con el Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) para la deportación de extranjeros con antecedentes penales. El activista comunitario de la organización Casa de Maryland, Lindolfo Carballo, dijo que varios dirigentes reunieron 600 firmas para pedir a las autoridades y la policía del condado de Montgomery que eviten la discriminación en la aplicación de la ley. “Es hora de decir basta” a Comunidades Seguras, “que convierte a la policía en agente de inmigración”, señaló Carballo. El programa cuestionado fue iniciado por el anterior presidente George W. Bush, y ha continuado y expandido bajo el gobierno de Barack Obama.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff-Coroner Phil Wowak on Tuesday found himself caught between an encroaching federal immigration program and resistance from local Latinos who want the county’s top law enforcement official to take a strong stand against it. Appearing before the county Board of Supervisors, Wowak outline his plans to layer his own local reviews into a Department of Homeland Security program known as Se Communities, which uses local jail bookings to help deport undocumented immigrants. It is aimed at those with a history of violence. But critics say the program sweeps up nonviolent offenders and even U.S. citizens, and local rights groups say Se Communities could impact public safety here by making illegal immigrants more reluctant to contact police. They want Wowak to resist the program. Wowak said he would implement assessments of jailed immigrants.
The federal immigration enforcement program supported by Sheriff Lee Baca and used in county jails has faced growing local opposition in the past two years. Now Se Communities is facing scrutiny from the feds themselves. Two recent internal reports question whether the Department failed to communicate early on whether states and counties had any choice in joining Se Communities. Another addresses whether the enforcement program has been effective. The reports were a response to Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren from San Jose, a critic of the program. The way Se Communities works is simple: when a person is booked into county jail, the detainee’s fingerprint information is shared with immigration authorities. If the person is in the country illegally, deportation proceedings could begin immediately.
A program to get rid of the most dangerous criminals here illegally is under fire again. On Saturday, some of the biggest civil right activists will be right here on the central coast hoping to do something about it. A federal program known as Se Communities is supposed to deport criminals who are here illegally, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement said from August 2010 to August 2011, 53 percent of the people deported from Monterey County had no criminal record. That’s the highest in the country. In Santa Cruz county, that number was 42 percent. “A vast majority of people deported do not have criminal convictions so that’s an area of concern for us because that’s not the proported purpose of the Se Communities program,” said Blanca Zarazua, co-chair for the Monterey County Immigration Coalition and Monterey Consul for Mexico. – Central Coast News KION/KCBA
On Friday the Department for Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General released two reports addressing how the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement communicated the intent and requirements for participation in the wrongly-named “Se Communities” (S-Comm) program to states and local jurisdictions and how the program is meeting its priorities. The OIG is tasked with periodic audits, inspection, and special reports prepared as part of the oversight responsibilities within DHS. The following is a statement from Angelica Salas, executive director for CHIRLA, a regional human and immigrant rights organization based in Los Angeles. “The reports do not even begin to address the myriad, factual and legitimate concerns that communities across the country have long had about DHS-ICE’s metastasized deportation dragnet, “S-Comm”.
Immigration officials may not have intentionally misled lawmakers or the public about the controversial Se Communities immigration enforcement program, but their communication strategy was a mess, according to an investigation by Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. The OIG investigation was requested last year by California’s Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from San Jose, after states and local jurisdictions trying to withdraw from the federal fingerprint-sharing program began learning they could not. It’s one of two new OIG reports related to Se Communities, the other addressing the program’s operations. The communications analysis is perhaps the most interesting of the two, among other things examining the Se Communities memorandums of agreement, called MOAs, which states and jurisdictions signed after the program began rolling out in late 2008.
Homeland Security Department officials stoked confusion among state and local jurisdictions over whether participation in a program to match arrestee fingerprint data against a federal immigration database was voluntary, medical a DHS office of inspector general report says. As a result, the data sharing effort, known as Se Communities, “continues to face opposition, criticism, and resistance in some locations,” the report states.
Any day now the Department of Homeland Security will announce a second round of “reforms” to the disgraced S-Comm, order or “Se Communities, see ” program. The harsh reality is that S-Comm is too broken to be fixed. Opponents have long charged that the program, which requires state and local jails to run immigration background checks on any person booked into custody — regardless of the seriousness or ultimate disposition of their charges — is undermining community safety and jeopardizing civil rights. Hundreds of thousands of family members have been deported, and public safety has been damaged by making witnesses and victims of crimes fear contact with police. North Carolina ranks No. 5 in states that deport the most number of people because of S-Comm.