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Legal Scholars Weigh in on Immigration Enforcement Controversy in California and the ICE’s Se Communities Program

WHO: Law Professors Hiroshi Motomura and Bill Ong Hing, and Director of Immigration Policy Aarti Kohli
WHAT: Legal scholars weigh in on recent developments surrounding immigration enforcement in California and the “Se Communities” (S-Comm) an ICE program that automatically shares fingerprints at the point of arrest by local law enforcement.
WHY: Local authorities in California and across the country are turning against S-Comm because they argue that it overburdens local law enforcement with civil immigration enforcement, resulting in high budgetary and social costs. Community advocates and several elected officials assert that S-Comm harms community policing strategies by eroding trust between victims and witnesses of crime and police who fear immigration consequences. They cite examples of high-profile cases of domestic violence victims in San Francisco and Maryland who have been placed in deportation proceedings after calling for help. San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey has asked to opt out of S-Comm because it casts “too wide a net”. The S-Comm program calls for fingerprinting and federal immigration database checks of people jailed for minor offenses like a broken taillight and can result in deportation without conviction or a trial. Recent statements by the Secretary of Homeland Security claiming that states and localities have no power to decide whether to participate in the program raise serious concerns about overreaching by the federal government and intrusion into local police power. Noted professors and researchers weigh in on the issue to provide accurate and important analysis on the legal terrain surrounding S-Comm.
WHEN: Immediately upon interview request.
Professor Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law University of California, Los Angeles.

“[Se Communities] undermines trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities; and it may overstep the constitutional authority of the federal government to tell local governments how to run its police departments. But Se Communities has a more basic flaw, with both policy and constitutional dimensions. It is that the program delegates to local police the discretion to decide who—through stops and arrests—will be put into the immigration enforcement system, and who will not. Even if the federal government retains the theoretical power to decide not to deport some non-citizens, local police will become the gatekeepers. As a practical matter, their decisions to arrest some residents but not others, to get tough with some neighborhoods but not others, will drive and direct federal immigration policy. The constitutional command that U.S. citizenship is national citizenship means that immigration enforcement decisions can’t be left to local preferences—and local prejudices. The local government proponents of opt-out aren’t arguing that they should be allowed to make immigration decisions. Instead, they are arguing that no local officials should be allowed to make what must ultimately be national policy.”

Professor Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law University of San Francisco

Regarding ICE’s stated position that states and local governments must participate in S-Comm: “In the immigration field, the concept of preemption is an appropriate check on over-zealous local enforcement efforts that directly affect immigration regulation, while the Tenth Amendment is a check on federal intrusion on a local jurisdiction’s attempt to be more protective of individual rights and when the locality has a legitimate non-immigration-related purpose such as public safety.”
“The central teaching of the Tenth Amendment cases is that ‘even where Congress has the authority under the Constitution to pass laws requiring or prohibiting certain acts, it lacks the power directly to compel the States to require or prohibit those acts.’1 Congress may not, therefore, directly compel states or localities to enact or to administer policies or programs adopted by the federal government. It may not directly shift to the states enforcement and administrative responsibilities allocated to the federal government by the Constitution. Such a reallocation would not only diminish the political accountability of both state and federal officers,2 but it would also ‘compromise the structural framework of dual sovereignty,’3 and separation of powers.4 Thus, Congress may not directly force states to assume enforcement or administrative responsibilities constitutionally vested in the federal government.5”
Regarding California’s current agreement with DHS concerning S-Comm: “The current Se Communities program Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between ICE and the State of California provides that it may be ‘modified at any time by mutual written consent of both parties.’ The implication of this provision is clear: the terms of the MOA are negotiable.”

Aarti Kohli Director of Immigration Policy, Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law & Social Policy

“The Warren Institute’s initial research indicates that Se Communities does implicate the use of local resources. Data indicates that the majority of non-citizens who are booked into ICE custody through Se Communities have been accused of low-level offenses, including traffic-related misdemeanors. Under typical circumstances, localities would allow low-level arrestees to post bond soon after an arrest. However, if ICE issues a request for the local jurisdiction to hold the person, then bond is often denied and the person must remain in the local jail until the case comes before a judge. Because of ICE holds, local jurisdictions use their own limited resources to feed, detain, and manage low-level offenders who would ordinarily not remain in custody. All of this occurs before the person is even taken into custody by ICE. Se Communities has resulted in a dramatic rise in ICE holds issued to local jails, thereby overburdening local law enforcement with the detention of those arrested on minor offenses who would not normally be held for extended periods.”
1New York, 505 U.S. at 166.
2 See New York, 505 U.S. at 168; Printz, 117 S. Ct. at 2382.
3Printz, 117 S. Ct. at 2383.
4See id. at 2378 (“The power of the President would be subject to reduction, if Congress could act as effectively without the President as with him, by simply requiring state officers to execute its laws.”)
5See New York, 505 U.S. at 166-68.
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On Mothers’ Day, Children of Immigrants Celebrate with Uncertainty

Across the country, migrant communities and the families that make them up have been roiled by the wave of criminalization that comes in the form of police/ICE collaborations and Arizona-style copycat bills.
On Monday, the Center for Constitutional Rights debuts a short film that features Maria Bolaños, a domestic violence survivor and mother from Maryland whose call for help led to deportation proceedings she’s still battling.
In New York, State Senators are calling on the Governor to do as Illinois did this past week and cancel the Se Communities program that leads to so many being placed in deportation.
In California, women like Norma are hoping to have their wrongful deportation proceedings dropped and hope to see the state pass the Trust Act that would prevent what happened to her from happening to other mothers.
In Georgia, families are watching the Governor closely to see if he will sign the Arizona copycat, HB 87.
And of course, in Arizona, Sheriff Arpaio still has his federal immigration powers leaving children like Katherine Figueroa wondering if their parents will still be there when they come home from school each day.
Last summer, Michelle Obama was almost speechless when a 2nd grader asked her why President Obama wanted to deport her parents.
How will she be celebrating Mothers day this year?
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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Calls for Moratorium on “Se Communities” Deportation Program

Washington, DC. – Following a chorus of growing criticism over the President’s Se Communities (S-Comm) policy, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus delivered a letter to the White House calling on the Administration to place a moratorium on the program that “is not living up to its name,” according to the Caucus.
Se Communities (SCOMM) was initially described as a program to identify and deport immigrants found guilty of serious crimes. The program enlists local police into federal immigration enforcement by screening all fingerprints of those booked in local jails through the federal ICE database. Data revealed through a federal lawsuit filed by civil rights groups shows the program fails to live up to its stated intention, as the program deports large groups of people without any convictions or convicted of only minor offenses. According to the CHC letter, “Evidence reveals not only a striking dissonance between the program’s stated purpose of removing dangerous criminals and it’s actual effect; it also suggests that S-Comm may endager the public, particularly among communities of color…”
Lawmakers in Congress and in states throughout the country say ICE officials lied about program details and requirements at its early stages. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California has described the implementation of the program as “dissembling and deceiving” and has called for an Inspector General (IG) investigation with the support of Senator Menendez. The call is reminiscent of another IG report on SCOMM’s predecessor, the 287(g) program made famous by Joe Arpaio in Arizona, which showed a program riddled with flaws that was too broken to be fixed.
On May 4th, the Governor of Illinois terminated his state’s participation in the program. In California, Assemblyman Ammiano introduced the TRUST Act to reform and regulate the program. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, large scale rallies have taken place in opposition to the program.
Thus the Caucus states, “We appreciate and steadfastly support your efforts to reform broken immigration laws and to strengthen national security and public safety. Unfortunately, neither of these goals are served or advanced by the S-Comm policy in its current form…
We are not convinced the program is achieving its stated goals, and we see nothing in the management and oversight of S-Comm that convinces us that these risks have been adequately addressed in the latest incarnation of local police immigration enforcement…
For these reasons, we request an immediate freeze of S-Comm pending a thorough review.”
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network whose organization along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law are litigants in a FOIA suit with the agency stated:
“SCOMM has become a symbol of the President’s broken promises on immigration reform. We are all painfully aware of the poisonous political climate on immigration reform, but there is simply no excuse for the President to deploy a policy that criminalizes immigrants, erodes our civil rights, and destroys community safety. The policy is unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped immediately.
There is a domestic human rights crisis in Arizona and elsewhere, on display to the world, because of the foolish entanglement of police in immigration enforcement. To allow- and advance- a policy that repeats Arizona’s mistakes across the whole country would be a betrayal.
The President must change direction immediately, through actions and not mere words. His first steps on the road to reform can- and must- be heeding the Hispanic Caucus’ call and putting S-Comm on ice.”
See below for Letter from Rep. Gutierrez to Governor Quinn and for for Governor Quinn’s letter to ICE.
http://ndlon.org/pdf/2011-05ilterminate.pdf
http://ndlon.org/pdf/2011-05gutierrez.pdf…

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As Illinois Senate Passes State Dream Act with Bipartisan Vote, Governor Quinn Terminates Troubled Deportation Program

Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement notifying the agency that because of its indiscriminate use of the “Se Communities” deportation program, the State is ending its participation in the program. The letter states “that the implementation of the Se Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose of the MOA… By ICE’s own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime.” The Governor’s letter concludes, “With this termination, no new counties in Illinois can be activated and those counties that were previously activated… must be deactivated and removed from the Se Communities program.”
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, praised the Governor’s action: “Governor Quinn took the state of Illinois one step forward toward sensible solutions for our broken immigration system. We need more policies like the Illinois DREAM Act, which the Senate passed today, not indiscriminate and reckless enforcement.”
The Governor’s letter comes in the wake of mounting criticism of the “Se Communities” program for what U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California describes as outright deception in its implementation and for the widely reported use of the program to deport people still presumed to be innocent despite the program’s mission of focusing on “convicted dangerous criminals.”
The Illinois legislature is scheduled to weigh in on the program with a pending vote on the Smart Enforcement Act, which would regulate and require reporting on the program.
Chris Newman from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network concluded,” DHS has been reckless and dishonest in its rapid expansion of a program that commandeers scare local law enforcement resources, endangers community safety, and erodes trust in law enforcement. The simple fact is DHS cannot make law and policy by decree, and Governor Quinn has taken appropriate action to protect the residents of Illinois.”…

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Advocates Support Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Call for Investigation into Se Communities Program

Today California Representative Zoe Lofgren (16th District) called on the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton, as well as the
Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPD) to investigate ICE’s Se Communities fingerprint-
sharing program in two separate letters. Rights groups NDLON, CCR and Cardozo support Lofgren’s call for an investigation into Se Communities and whether local
jurisdictions and states have the ability to “opt out” of the program.
In her letter to the OPD, Lofgren wrote: “It is unacceptable for government officials to essentially lie to local governments, Members of Congress, and the public…It is critically important you thoroughly investigate this matter and that any misconduct result in real consequences.”
Se Communities has been criticized and condemned throughout the country since it began in 2008. Through to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by NDLON,
CCR and Cardozo in April 2010, a series of documents and internal emails have been released by advocates which have shown dishonesty and confusion among federal and
state officials charged with implementing the program.
“It’s a good thing the former governor of Arizona – the one who originally prod Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 287(g) contract in the first place – doesn’t get to rule by decree
in Washington, DC,” said Chris Newman, Legal Director for National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
For more information on the FOIA lawsuit, please visit http://ccrjustice.org/se-communities or http://uncoverthetruth.org….

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California Advances TRUST Act to Stop Arizonification of Jails

Following Lofgren Investigation, former Arizona Governor Napolitano Flies to California to Defend Discredited Program
(Sacramento, CA) The TRUST Act (AB 1081) sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano passed out of the California public safety committee with all Democrats voting to support it. The bill seeks to repair the damaging impacts of the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency’s “Se Communities” program. The program has been widely discredited across the country due to the blatant dishonesty exposed in a series of internal emails released by advocates who received them only through litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. Stories of domestic violence survivors and high rates of people still presumed to be innocent being placed into deportation proceedings via its finger-print sharing mechanism further demonstrated how the ICE program’s actual operations are far outside of its Congressional mandate. On Tuesday, a US Citizen testified about being falsely jailed because of the program.
Such developments led California Congresswoman Lofgren to call for an investigation into the program and into how involved ICE Director and DHS Secretary Napolitano may have been in its implementation.
Chris Newman of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network explains, “California will not allow the Arizonification of its law enforcement agencies. The TRUST Act is a modest measure meant to bring some transparency and confidence back to law enforcement after ICE’s rogue effort to enlist police as frontline immigration enforcers. We are confident California lawmakers will step up and create civil rights safeguards that protect our community, even if DHS officials are content to fight among themselves about a program no one fully understands.” …

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