NDLON Press Releases

Latest updates on our news, events & campaigns

Brewer’s 1070 Countersuit is Counterproductive for Arizona

Phoenix, AZ. In response to the Governor of Arizona pressing her countersuit to defend SB 1070, Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a litigant in the injunction suit against SB 1070 issued the following statement:
“Like Governor Wallace before her, Governor Brewer is choosing to stand on the wrong side of history with her defense of unconstitutional, regressive, and immoral legislation.
Brewer will lose in court and in the court of public opinion. Any short term political gain by scapegoating Americans in waiting will be offset in droves by future generations in Arizona who will have been inspired to wipe away the stain on the state caused by her repugnant, unconstitutional, and anti-American nativist crusade.
Yet, like a driver who refuses to admit they’re lost, the Governor refuses to turn around.
Governor Brewer’s inability to govern and failure to provide real solutions to the state’s problems will no longer be shielded by the diversion created by her spectacle of scapegoating.”
The Governor’s countersuit today precedes another event in court. Tomorrow, on the anniversary of the implementation of SB 1070, local leader Salvador Reza of the Puente Movement as well as Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, will face trial for their act of conscience that prevented Sheriff Arpaio’s raids on last July 29th….

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President Obama’s Credibility Gap On Display at NCLR Convention

Washington, DC.
In response to President Obama’s speech today at the annual convention of the National Council de la Raza, Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued this statement:
“Despite soaring rhetoric, the President’s unbridled enforcement of unjust and outdated immigration laws has contributed to an unprecedented civil rights crisis for our community. And his administration has deported over one million people, surpassing the total number of people removed during Operation Wetback. The President can now claim the title, deporter-in-chief.
We know ICE has gone rogue, but we’re starting to feel like the President is going rogue on immigration too. It is not enough for him to blame Congress or to bemoan the difficulty of his job. He can- and must- take action to protect members of our community who are under siege.
The President can use existing authority to move the country in the right direction. He should take swift action to prevent the Arizonification of the country by refusing to let local police act as agents of deportation. For example, the President should, as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has requested, immediately suspend the Se Communities program until the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General can complete her report. At this rate, President Obama’s S-Comm policy will go down in history with Eisenhower’s ‘Operation Wetback.’ Both have the same pernicious consequences, but one has a better speech writer.” …

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Record Deportations Demonstrate Credibility Gap for President Obama

(Los Angeles) In response to the Associated Press article published today, Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network commented,
“The alarming deportation statistics released in the AP report are a matter for national concern. The arbitrary enforcement of unjust immigration laws will widen the President’s credibility gap among Latinos. The President should either hold ICE accountable for belying his campaign promises, or the President himself should be held accountable. As the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has requested, the Se Communities program should be immediately suspended until the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General can complete her report. At this rate, President Obama’s S-Comm policy will go down in history with Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback.” Both have the same pernicious consequences, but one has a more clever name.”
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network has led efforts against the Se Communities program; litigating in federal court to uncover the truth under the Freedom of Information Act and coordinating the Turning the Tide campaign whose local participants have led to the states of Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts opting-out of the troubling programs because of the dragnet effect reported by the AP today.
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New Documents Reveal Behind-the-Scenes FBI Role in Controversial Se Communities Deportation Program

Opt-Out Policy for Se Communities Set by Obs FBI Panel, Not by Law
July 6, 2011, New York and Washington – Documents obtained through 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 show that the controversial Se Communities deportation program (S-Comm), designed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target people for deportation, is also a key component of a little-known FBI project to accumulate a massive store of personal biometric information on citizens and non-citizens alike.
According to the documents, S-Comm is “only the first of a number of biometric interoperability systems being brought online by the FBI ‘Next Generation Identification’ (NGI) project.” NGI will expand the FBI’s existing fingerprint database to add iris scans, palm prints, and facial recognition information for a wide range of people.
Jessica Karp of NDLON explained: “NGI is the next generation Big Brother. It’s a backdoor route to a national ID, to be carried not in a wallet, but within the body itself. The FBI’s biometric-based project is vulnerable to hackers and national security breaches and carries serious risks of identity theft. If your biometric identity is stolen or corrupted in NGI, it will be hard to fix. Unlike an identity card or pin code, biometrics are forever.”
The misrepresentations ICE used to sell S-Comm to states have been well documented and are currently the subject of a DHS Office of the Inspector General investigation. But to date, the FBI’s role in S-Comm has not been scrutinized, although the FBI has come under fire recently for adopting new, generalized policies that permit intrusive, suspicionlesssurveillance without adequate oversight.
Said Bridget Kessler of the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic: “These documents provide a fascinating glimpse into the FBI’s role in forcing S-Comm on states and localities. The FBI’s desire to pave the way for the rest of the NGI project seems to have been a driving force in the policy decision to make S-Comm mandatory. But the documents also confirm that, both technologically and legally, S-Comm could have been voluntary.”
Although the documents obtained raise many more questions than answers about the FBI’s involvement in S-Comm and S-Comm’s place in the broader NGI project, they do reveal the following key facts:
The CJIS Advisory Board, which oversees the FBI’s criminal databases, passed a motion in June 2009 to recommend that the FBI convert S-Comm from a voluntary to a mandatory program at the local level. At that time – and as much as one year later – ICE was still representing S-Comm as voluntary to state and local officials.
The FBI’s decision to support mandatory imposition of S-Comm was not driven by any legal mandate. In fact, the FBI considered making S-Comm voluntary, showing that it viewed opting out as both a technological possibility and a lawful option. The FBI chose the mandatory route not because of a statutory requirement, but for “record linking/maintenance purposes.” In focusing on mundane record-keeping issues, the agency failed to weigh any of the considerations that have driven states and localities across the country to withdraw from S-Comm, including the program’s impact on community policing, its association with an increased risk of racial profiling, and its failure to comply with its announced purpose of targeting dangerous criminals.
Both FBI and immigration officials have raised concerns internally that aspects of S-Comm may interfere with privacy and invade civil liberties. Notes from one meeting, for example, state that S-Comm “goes against privacy and civil liberties.” In another series of emails, FBI officials raised concerns that state and local users of the FBI databases would be surprised to learn that the FBI was using their data to perform searches that the users had neither requested nor authorized.
DHS may be using S-Comm to gather and store data about U.S. citizens, too. One of the newly obtained documents indicates that US-VISIT, a component of DHS may have considered storing certain information about individuals in violation of their own internal requirements and privacy laws. This may include the retention of data about the lawful activities of even natural-born U.S. citizens.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez, “These revelations should disturb us on multiple levels: the lies, the shadowy role of the FBI, the threats to citizens and non-citizens alike, and the rampant potential violations of civil liberties. This goes far beyond the irreparable S-Comm program and opens a window onto the dystopian future our government has planned. With so much at stake, this process must at all costs be transparent going forward.”

To read our briefing guide and the related documents, please visit http://uncoverthetruth.org/foia-documents/foia-ngi/ngi-documents/. To read FOIA documents and information about the case NDLON v. ICE brought by CCR, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, visit CCR’s legal case page at www.ccrjustice.org/se-communities….

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Advocates Decry DHS Advisory Committee As a “Sham”

Washington DC – Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security launched its advisory committee as part of the response to the growing controversy and resistance from states and law enforcement towards Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Se Communities” program.
When ICE announced cosmetic modifications earlier this month it promoted the advisory committee made up of law enforcement, ICE agents, and advocates as a body purported to issue recommendations in 45 days on how to “mitigate impacts on community policing,” “how to best focus on individuals who pose a true public safety and security threat,” as well as how to implement a post-conviction policy for traffic offenses.
Today advocates learned that in fact the commission is limited to recommendations about minor traffic offenses—a significant departure from ICE’s announcement. The commission also appears to be tangled in levels of bureaucracy —the advisory committee reports to another DHS committee.
Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said: “The advisory commission launched by DHS is a sham like the rest of the ‘Se Communities’ program. The more we learn about the commission the more we smell a rat. A committee tasked on whether they should separate and detain families pre or post conviction for broken tail lights is another embarrassment for the Obama Administration and its disregard for human rights in this country.”
“Forty-five days and a few short meetings is not enough time to truly examine a vast program like S-Comm,“ said Bridget Kessler of Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, “ICE is once again spouting superficial talking points and band-aid solutions instead of confronting S-Comm’s fundamental flaws.”
ICE recently posted a document titled “Se Communities: Get the Facts” on its website. Advocates, questioning ICE’s “facts,” issued this response: http://tinyurl.com/4x7tnbn
“The Office of Inspector General of DHS is set to investigate the problems with Se Communities, including whether public officials were misled by the agency,” said Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The advisory committee’s narrow scope ignores the concerns of public officials and civil rights groups. Advocates and community members have called for an end to Se Communities and the administration should listen.”
Last year ICE issued a document titled “Setting the Record Straight” in response to the release of data about S-Comm. The document, which outlined a procedure to opt-out of the program, was later taken down from the ICE website. “ICE’s ‘Get the Facts’ web posting is like ‘Setting the Record Straight,’ all spin without substance aimed at hiding the truth,” concluded Sunita Patel….

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GLAHR Response to HB 87 Injunction

With parts of HB 87 temporarily blocked, community still threatened by Governor’s appeal and already existing 287(g) and the so-called ‘se communities’ program.
06.27.2011 Atlanta, GA. Today Judge Thrash announced a temporary and partial injunction on HB 87, enjoining sections 7 and 8 of the state law while allowing other sections to move forward. Governor Deal promptly declared his intention to appeal the decision.
Teodoro Maus of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), plaintiff in the injunction suit responded to today’s announcement saying,
“We know that the law is unconstitutional. We will continue organizing until it is erased from Georgia’s books and our community is respected in this state for all we contribute. We ask our neighbors to take this moment to correct the false image of our community that has been created for them by hate-mongering anti-immigrant efforts.”
Adelina Nicholls, executive director of GLAHR added, “The court decision is a positive step forward but our communities still face discrimination from police empowered by the Obama administration’s 287(g) and se communities programs.
The criminalization of migrants is the wrong direction for our country regardless of whether it is state laws or federal programs propagating it. We now need an injunction on the federal level to stop programs that separate families. We need to turn toward a pathway for legalization.”
Gwinnett and Cobb counties are two of the most egregious examples of the racial profiling and discriminatory policing that occurs under federal ICE Access programs such as 287(g). HB 87 would have been an escalation of the already existing violations of civil and human rights of migrant and Latino communities in Georgia. Advocates are calling for the federal government to take a more active role in preventing implementation of HB 87, ending its own initiatives that have resulted in racial profiling and discriminatory policing, and pursuing genuine immigration reform.
GLAHR continues to call for a Day without Immigrants on July 1st and a march in recognition of the migrant community’s role in Georgia at the capitol on July 2nd. The partial injunction marks a temporary victory but dangerous segments of HB 87 are still moving forward. In that the Governor has already pledged to appeal its decision, the struggle for immigration reform and against racial bias in the state continues.

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