S-Comm was launched in 2008 with the stated mission of targeting “serious criminals” but the agency’s own data shows that a majority of individuals deported have not been convicted of any crime or have committed minor offenses including traffic offenses. In 2010 Washington, DC became the first local jurisdiction in the country to officially opt-out of S-Comm when the program was still voluntary.
In response to growing criticism, the federal government cancelled local memorandums of agreement governing the program and made it mandatory. The District along with the Governors of Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and numerous other cities opposed the program because it damages trust between local police and the community and deters witnesses and crime victims from reporting crimes for fear of deportation.
DC Mayor Vincent Gray says, “I’m disappointed that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has decided to proceed with this program despite the vocal objections of local law-enforcement and elected officials in the District. In areas like the District that have large immigrant communities, police rely on the trust of those community members that their immigration status will not be threatened by their cooperation in local law-enforcement investigations. Se Communities jeopardizes that trust, and consequently makes everybody less safe.”
Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network says, ”While I’m appalled by the Federal government’s trampling of our rights, I’m proud that the DC government is defending our community against draconian immigration enforcement programs that create unsafe and broken communities. The Immigration Detainer Compliance Act follows in the steps of other progressive communities like Cook County, Illinois and the State of Connecticut that value true public safety and unity over Arizona-style enforcement-only policies.”
Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham adds, “I want to maintain and strengthen the bright line that has existed between local law enforcement agencies and Federal immigration officials. The Feds have an entire set of agencies to do that work, and we need all of our local resources to prevent and fight crime.”
Roxana Olivas, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs says, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. We as immigrants in Washington DC struggle every day, and so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent, the backs of this country must straighten and provide justice for all that live in this country!”
Said 32BJ Capital Area Director Jaime Contreras: “Se Communities, the flawed Bush-era deportation program built on cowboy justice, runs against everything our district and our country represents. This is not the way to fix our nation’s broken immigration system or keep our communities safe. Undocumented immigrants are workers and taxpayers, not criminals. They live in our communities and contribute to our economy. Our country shouldn’t stand for such enforcement-only measures that push undocumented workers into the shadows while distracting police officers from real threats to our communities.”