Baltimore Opposes Se Communities, Adds Voice to Chorus Calling for Suspension of the Discredited Program

Baltimore, MD. Last night the Baltimore City Council adopted a resolutioncondemning the “Se Communities” program which entangles local police in federal immigration issues. The Council expressed concern for the of the cities newest residents and urged the Maryland’s Congressional delegation to support the demand of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus by calling for a suspension of the program pending an Inspector General review.
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, applauded the resolution by saying, “The tide is turning on the dangerous, dishonest ‘se communities’ program. S-COMM was sold to the American public by DHS under false pretenses. The more we learn about the program, the more urgent it becomes to end it. It makes communities less safe, it imperils civil rights, and it is poisoning political efforts to reform unjust immigration laws. Yesterday, the Baltimore City Council took action to prevent the Arizonification of the community.
There is an urgent need to stop the harm being caused by the falsely named “Se Communities” and end to the program all together. Se Communities has become a symbol of President Obama’s broken promises on immigration reform. Ending it would be a concrete step to repair that trust, and it would be the first step on a path to immigration reform. ”
The resolution by the Baltimore City Council is part of a growing trend of local opposition to the coercive federal program. In the past month, Illinois and New York pulled out of the program while Massachusetts refused to join in. State legislation in California is being heard in the Senate today as calls for California’s Governor to suspend the program grow. Last Friday, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi described S-Comm as a “waste of taxpayer money.” For more background information, download http://ndlon.org/pdf/scommbrief.pdf
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the Turning the Tide campaign….

CA Senate committee to hear TRUST Act as Rep. Pelosi calls S-Comm “waste of taxpayer money”

What: The Senate Public Safety Committee is expected to hear AB 1081 (Ammiano), the TRUST Act, which would reform California’s participation in S-Comm, ensuring local governments’ ability to opt out of the deeply troubled program and setting basic standards for jurisdictions that do choose to participate.
When: Tuesday, June 14, 2011

  • Hearing begins at 9:30; TRUST Act may be heard any time during the hearing.
  • Interview availability at about 10:30 AM

Congresspeople Call on Governor Brown to Suspend Discredited Se Communities Program in California as Pelosi Calls Program Waste of Money

Los Angeles, CA. – Today Members of Congress held a press conference in Los Angeles to call for a suspension to the federal “Se Communities” jail deportation program that entangles local law enforcement in immigration issues. The program is considered widely discredited as a wave of cities and states including Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and most recently Los Angeles have either ended their participation, refused to join, or have sought a way out of the program. The opposition stems from numerous reports of the program resulting in a chilling effect on community-police relations as people presumed innocent and even domestic violence survivors are caught in its dragnet. In addition to its community-level impact, Congresspeople and state officials are balking at systemic lying and dishonesty in the agency exposed by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The Congresspeople’s call for Governor Brown to suspend the program as other Democratic governors have done reflects the urgency of stemming its negative impact. California is already considering a bill, the TRUST Act, which passed its assembly and is awaiting a vote in the Senate which would regulate the program and reinforce its voluntary nature for localities.
Rep. Judy Chu stated, “The program as implemented has undermined our police department’s mission of protecting the public… I sincerely hope we suspend our state’s participation in the program.
“The fact there are so many unanswered questions is the reason why we need an inspector general report.” added Rep. Allard
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, commented, “What started as an effort to uncover the truth about S-Comm has evolved into a consensus view that the program should be scrapped all together. S-Comm has come to symbolize the President’s broken promises on immigration reform. The fact is that it has not yet been frozen is now being viewed as a betrayal and places the urgent need to end the program on the desk of our local officials.
Our local officials were misled into the program and now is the time to lead us out. The tide is turning on the dangerous and dishonest ‘se communities’ program. ICE has gotten into the snake oil business. It sold S-COMM to the American public under false pretenses. It makes communities less safe, it imperils civil rights, and it is poisoning political efforts to reform unjust immigration laws.
Today, Rep. Becerra and the other Congresspeople said very clearly that this program has no place in California or anywhere in our democracy. We must prevent the Arizonification of our community whether it comes in the form of SB 1070 or s-comm. There is an urgent need for California to do better for its residents and to suspend s-comm immediately.”
Timeline of Recent S-Comm Activity:
* 06-10-2011 Rep Becerra and others hold Press Conference calling on Governor Jerry Brown to suspend S-Comm in California
* 06-10-2011 Nancy Pelosi critiques S-Comm as “waste of taxpayer dollars” http://bit.ly/scommpelosi
* 06-06-2011 Congressional Progressive Caucus sends letter to President Obama calling for moratorium on the program
* 06-06-2011 Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick refuses to join the program
* 06-01-2011 New York Governor Cuomo Suspends S-Comm in his state
* 05-05-2011 Congressional Hispanic Caucus sends letter to President Obama calling for moratorium on the program
* 05-03-2011 Illinois Governor Quinn terminates S-Comm Memorandum of Agreement with ICE in his state
* 04-25-2011 Rep. Lofgren calls for Inspector General Investigation into S-Comm
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the Turning the Tide campaign….

ICE Anonymous Response to States’ Rejection of Se Communities, Characteristic of Agency’s Dishonesty and Lack of Transparency

– New York and Washington – Today, advocates and attorneys critical of the controversial immigration program Se Communities (S-Comm) decried the agency’s placing of anonymous sources in articles in the New York Times and Boston Globe to bolster its contention that the program is mandatory even as more and more localities and states choose to opt out. With New York and Massachusetts following Illinois, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is waging a campaign of coercion to force states and localities to adopt a program that faces wide calls for its termination due to its dishonest and indiscriminate implementation. Started in 2008, S-Comm runs the names and fingerprints of everyone arrested in participating localities through federal immigration and criminal databases. Law enforcement professionals have said the program results in a deterioration of community-police relations as local officers are commandeered to assist with the work of the feds. The agency’s story about the ability to opt out of the program has shifted constantly, and many localities and members of Congress feel that ICE lied to them in the process.
(More Background Information available at http://ndlon.org/pdf/scommbrief.pdf)
Said Bridget Kessler, Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, “Through Freedom of Information Act litigation we have sought disclosure of the opt-out policy and the legal basis for the DHS’ most recent position that states and localities cannot opt-out. So far, ICE has stonewalled and refused to turn over an unredacted version of a legal memorandum about the authority to make the program mandatory. The lack of transparency on this issue is stunning. The public has a right to straightforward information from the federal government about the purported legal basis for programs that cost taxpayers millions of dollars–particularly when the government appears to be forcing these programs on unwilling states and cities.”
A recent statement by an assistant director at the FBI called into question whether they can force information sharing: “[W]e don’t own those records. They’re owned by the states, by the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across this country. They submit them to us and allow us to use them, we hold them and distribute them per their agreements with each of the states. And every state has a different law governing what records can be distributed and what they can be used for. The challenge is walking that line and making sure we’re not violating any of the states’ rights in addition the federal laws that we have.”
Said Pablo Alvarado, NDLON Executive Director, “DHS is more a rogue agency than a reliable source at this point. The agency’s use of anonymous sources signals a lack of transparency and secrecy that has no place in a democracy. ICE continues misrepresenting the program. DHS can’t be taken on its word to write its own legal authority. There’s never been a mandate to make end run around 10th amendment nor a mandate to enlist police as frontline deportation officers.”
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Sunita Patel, “Regardless of the legal authority to do so, one thing is clear: Making S-Comm mandatory is bad policy. New York, Illinois and Massachusetts agree that the program is harms all of us. We are concerned with potential constitutional violations and privacy violations if the federal government compels information sharing. DHS should halt the program for an immediate review and, at minimum, allow states and localities to opt-out or limit their participation in the program.”
Visit CCR’s NDLON v. ICE case page or the joint website, UncovertheTruth.org, for the text of the FOIA request, the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York 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 www.ccrjustice.org
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
The 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 www.cardozo.yu.edu

Pressure Grows on President to End Rogue ICE Deportation Program

NDLON, Law Enforcement, Attorneys and Affected Community Interviews and Visuals Available Upon Request.
(Los Angeles, Washington DC) In the growing groundswell of opposition, the New York Times echoed the call of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and others to end the “Se Communities” (S-Comm) program in an editorial published today. The Times stated, S-Comm has “made Republican hard-liners happy by bolstering the noxious argument that all undocumented immigrants are mere criminals, deportees-in-waiting. This is a failure of decency and good sense. It merely punishes and does nothing to actually come to grips with the problem of illegal immigration.”
Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution calling for the ability to opt-out of S-Comm and Oakland voted to support the California TRUST ACT, legislation meant to the state’s participation in the program. Los Angeles City Councilmember Reyes said, “We need to end this ugliness, the meanness of federal policies that are punitive to vulnerable people. This is not the America we want.”
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, commented, “”The tide is turning on S-Comm. A chorus of opposition to the program is growing louder as the migrant rights movement demands a reversal of politics that criminalize immigrants. It is clear S-Comm threatens community safety, it results in gross civil rights violations, and it undermines efforts to reform immigration laws. What started as an effort to uncover the truth about S-Comm has evolved into a consensus view that the program should be scrapped all together. S-Comm has come to symbolize the President’s broken promises on immigration reform. The fact is that it has not yet been frozen is now being viewed as a betrayal.”
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the national Turning the Tide campaign….

Los Angeles Resolution Calls for SCOMM OPT OUT

(Los Angeles) The City Council today passed a resolution opposing the discredited “Se Communities” jail deportation program, amid growing calls for the California TRUST ACT, legislation moving in Sacramento which would limit California’s participation, and ensure local police’s ability to opt-out of the program.
The resolution is part of a turning tide against the Obama Administration’s discredited jail deportation program.
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network commented, “The tide is turning on the dangerous, dishonest ‘se communities’ program. S-COMM was sold to the American public by DHS under false pretenses. It’s snake oil. It makes communities less safe, it imperils civil rights, and it is poisoning political efforts to reform unjust immigration laws. Today, Los Angeles said very clearly it isn’t ing the snake oil, and the City Council has taken action to prevent the Arizonification of our community.
There is an urgent need for the TRUST Act in California, and an end to the program all together. Se Communities has become a symbol of President Obama’s broken promises on immigration reform. Ending it would be a concrete step to repair that trust, and it would be the first step on a path to immigration reform. ”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Reyes said, “We need to end this ugliness, the meanness of federal policies that are punitive to vulnerable people. This is not the America we want.”
Michel Moore, Assistant Chief of Special Operations of the LA Police Department, reaffirmed, “Undocumented status is of no interest to the department. Se Communities undermines our ability to maintain trust and communication with communities. Trust and communication that’s essential to ensure their safety.”
Councilmember Huizar stated, “We say no thank you to the federal government. We say no to s-comm.”
More than a year ago, Washington DC, Arlington, VA, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, CA sought to opt-out of what was originally represented as a voluntary deportation program, “Se Communities.” The actions of those cities has escalated to a domino effect of states seeking out of the now discredited program, attempting reforms, or pledging not to participate in the case of those yet to sign-on.

In the past month, Governor Quinn of Illinois and Governor Cuomo of New York announced their suspension of the program and the cancellation of the memorandum of agreements between their states and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Observing how S-Comm has been implemented in other states, Massachusetts Governor Patrick announced Monday that his state would not sign on to the program. In California, a bill that would regulate the program and reinforce its voluntary nature, the TRUST Act, recently passed the Assembly and is awaiting vote in the Senate.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has said DHS has been “essentially lying to local government” about the program. Her calls for a thorough investigation have corresponded with requests by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to immediately suspend the program.
The Oakland City Council is scheduled to pass a similar resolution this evening.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the Turning the Tide campaign….

Department of Justice Should Intervene in not just Investigate Maricopa County

Salvador Reza of the Puente Movement responded to today’s Department of Justice settlement for access to records in Sheriff Arpaio’s office with the following statement.
“Nearly three years after the beginning of their investigation, the Department of Justice should be intervening in Maricopa county not just investigating. The people of Maricopa have been living with a likely criminal at the head of our law enforcement for years and it’s time for relief. The County Sheriff’s Office should be placed under receivership without delay. Anything less than immediate intervention in our human rights crisis makes President Obama and former Governor Napolitano accomplices in the reign of terror- and likely criminal behavior- of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.”

The Department of Homeland Security which empowers Sheriff Arpaio through its ICE Access programs has recently come under fire for the expansion of Arpaio-style policies throughout the country through the “Se Communities” program. The agency has been accused of emulating the lack of transparency and discriminatory practices under investigation in the office of Sheriff Arpaio. As a result, the DHS’ spread of Arpaio-style policies is also coming under investigation by the OIG and is facing a growing call for an end to ICE Access programs that entangle local police in immigration laws.

New Letters Indicate Napolitano’s “Confusion,” a Cover-Up

“The only things ICE is apparently willing to credit to me… are those which they wish to use to imply I was a rogue… I have been made a scapegoat for reasons of political expediency.” – Fired Contractor, Dan Cadman
Detailed letters released today from a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contractor to Representative Zoe Lofgren give rise to grave questions of Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) transparency and integrity in the administration of the controversial ICE Se Communities (S-Comm) program.
Following the release of internal emails as a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, the federal government has been under pressure to answer questions about the program’s use and scope. The new letters further reveal DHS’ attempts to cover up mismanagement and lies, including questioning the redactions of documents about the opting-out issue that a federal judge ordered federal agencies to release in January.
Attached to Rep. Lofgren’s letter to the DHS Office of Inspector General urging an immediate investigation into S-Comm are two letters from a former ICE contractor, Dan Cadman, who claims responsibility for a majority of S-Comm activations. He wrote, “I believe key elements in the ICE correspondence [to you] are inaccurate and misleading… ICE painted itself into a corner and needed someone to blame.” He enclosed a letter he wrote to ICE Se Communities Acting Assistant Director, Marc Rapp, following his “abrupt” termination: “I will admit to being puzzled as to which documents the FOIA office elected to provide versus those they withheld.” He notes in some instances the FOIA office redacted his name while in others they did not and credits the misrepresentation of the program as the key factor to New York State’s former Governor Patterson’s agreement to participate, observing, “this would be downright amusing, if the subject matter were not so serious.”
Bridget Kessler, attorney at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, observed, “ICE cannot choose to release documents and redact names selectively, particularly not to hide government misconduct or dishonesty. FOIA gives the public a right to access information about what their government officials are doing and does not allow for agencies to withhold documents simply because they might be embarrassing.”
“The worst part of ICE’s lack of transparency and accountability in the development and deployment of S-Comm is that every day S-Comm tears families apart and spreads fear in immigrant communities across the nation. ICE’s conduct belies a fundamental lack of respect for democracy and the people that are impacted by its harsh policies,” said Sunita Patel, attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights
Sarahí Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said, “Se Communities has become an ever larger symbol of President Obama’s broken promises on immigration. We second the call by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. We need a moratorium on this program immediately. Each day ICE exposes itself as a rogue agency that needs to be reigned in. Those responsible for this attempt at a cover-up have no place in the offices of a democracy.”
New York FOIA documents are, for the first time, posted here:
http://uncoverthetruth.org/foia-documents-new-york

Correspondence between Lofgren, Morton, Inspector General, and Cadman (Cadman letters at end of Document): http://ndlon.org/pdf/2011-05cadman.pdf

A Petition for a Moratorium on S-Comm Launched Today at: http://bit.ly/scommice

NDLON v. ICE litigates President Obama’s flagship “Se Communities” biometrics program, currently operating in over 1,200 jurisdictions in 42 states as of May 2011. Rights groups say the program makes state and local policing central to the enforcement of federal immigration law. The program automatically runs fingerprints through immigration databases for all people arrested and targets them for detention and deportation even if their criminal charges are minor, eventually dismissed or the result of an unlawful arrest. The documents released as a result of the litigation have shown widespread internal agency confusion about the program’s voluntary nature as well as the government’s heavy-handed implementation strategy. Mayer Brown serves as co-counsel in the case.

For more information on NDLON v. ICE or to view documents produced by the government, visit the Center for Constitutional Right’s legal case page or www.uncoverthetruth.org.

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 www.ccrjustice.org

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

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 www.cardozo.yu.edu/immigrationjustice

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Georgia Governor Deal Signs Arizona Copycat into Law, Groups Announce Human Rights Summer.

Atlanta, GA. – In response to the Governor’s announcement that he will sign HB 87 at noon eastern time today, Georgians are amassing at the capitol during the day and preparing for a general assembly this evening at Trinity United Methodist Church at 6:30pm.
Communities will hold a Women’s March in Defense of the Immigrant Family on May 22 and are declaring July 1st, the date when segments of hb 87 are to be activated, as a day of Non-Compliance as part of a broader campaign of community education and organizing they’re calling the “Georgia Human Rights Summer.”
Below are comments in reaction to the signing:
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network
“Governor Deal’s signing of HB 87 flies in the face of those concerned with either Georgia’s economy or its residents’ civil rights. Those who have passed this law with the hope of intimidating or displacing our community have accomplished the opposite. As a result, people are standing up in the long tradition of organizing for justice. We know and will show that Georgia is better than HB 87.
We will accompany the humble communities targeted by this bill in defending their rights and making real a vision of the beloved community. Arizona has become the capitol of prejudice and we will do everything we can to keep Georgia from heading in the same direction. Our way forward as a country must be through policies that bring us together instead of divide us. We are certain that Georgia will see that as well.”
Georgina Perez, student member of Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance
“We have a right to remain in this state where we have lived, worked, and studied, for some of us, nearly all of our lives. We will not obey a law that is unjust, that is meant to drive out our families and criminalize our community. Just as African Americans resisted unjust Jim Crow and segregation laws in the 1960’s, so will we resist until justice prevails and HB 87, and all anti-immigrant laws, are repealed.”
Xochitl Bervera, Somos Georgia/We are Georgia.
“We are calling on all businesses, conventions, and conferences to cancel your trips to the State of Georgia and pledge to not spend one dollar here until this law is repealed.”
Adelina Nicholls, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
“This action is not only an insult to the Latino community and other immigrants, but is also an exercise in cheap political pandering that will cost our state dearly. This is not the end, only the beginning of a new stage. This law can and must be fought; and it can and will be defeated.”
Interviews Available Upon Request
Interested Participants in Georgia Human Rights can Sign up at http://bit.ly/georgia2011…

President Obama’s Commitment to Immigration Reform will be Measured by his Actions

(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 Se Communities as a first step.*”

Pablo Alvarado is available for media inquiries.

NDLON staff is also available for interviews on Se 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
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