Arturo Venegas Sets Example for Failed DHS Taskforce. Resignation Makes Former Sacramento Chief Hero in Immigrant Communities
See Complete Report Here: http://altopolimigra.com/s-comm-shadow-report/
After a firestorm of controversy over the Se Communities deportation program (or “SCOMM”), a committee charged with providing recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security has failed to reach consensus with taskforce members beginning to resign.
Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network praised the first to resign, “”Arturo Venegas is setting the example and leading the way for taskforce members to match the courage of those who stood up at taskforce hearings calling for an end of the program. His resignation today makes him a hero in the immigrant community.”
The Se Communities Task Force was widely viewed as an effort by DHS to dampen growing criticism of the discredited program rather than an earnest attempt to seek input from the program’s detractors. In contrast to the DHS task force, a broad coalition of experts achieved complete consensus in a shadow report recommending the complete termination of SCOMM.
Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:
“Rather than sweep SCOMM’s catastrophic flaws under a rug, the administration should end the program. DHS has used unprecedented deception to sell a dangerous program to the American public, and its use of this task force is no different. It is clear DHS set the task force up as a ruse to cover up its colossal failure, but it didn’t work.
“The task force report will only lead to more controversy over SCOMM as questions are raised about why it couldn’t achieve consensus, and as everyone now watches to see whether the White House will finally hold DHS accountable.
“S-Comm is leading to the ‘Arizonification’ of the United States. Immediate suspension pending a genuine review by the Inspector General will be required to regain public trust in DHS. An end to the program will be required to advance the goal of immigration reform.”
Background on Parallel Report:
“The Se Communities program should be ended,” is the central recommendation of a report authored by broad coalition of prominent local and national immigrant rights group and endorsed by over 150 organizations. The report, which features the voices of law enforcement, judges, academics, and directly impacted individuals, chronicles the deception of Immigration and Customs Enforcement uncovered through FOIA litigation, local organizing, and advocacy. The report clearly lays out demonstrable negative impacts SCOMM has had on community safety and civil rights.
For example, Ron Hampton president of Black Law Enforcement in America writes in the report, “Opposition to Se Communities “is rooted in common sense: counties and states across the country rely on the relationships of the communities they serve to combat and solve crime. It is foolish to sever this tie in order to enforce civil immigration law.”
Echoing the concerns of other law enforcement officials and experts, Robert Morgenthau, former New York City District Attorney, wrote in the report, “When immigrants perceive the local police force as merely an arm of the federal immigration authority, they become reluctant to report criminal activity for fear of being turned over to federal officials.”
The report also included the testimony of Joaquin, a resident of Homestead, Florida who was wrongfully arrested and assaulted by police and now faces deportation because of the Se Communities program. He wrote, “I never committed a crime but now I am facing going back to my country. My plans, my dreams, everything was changed.
Background on the Se Communities Task Force:
The task force has been discredited by the immigrant rights movement since its inception. Shortly after its creation 200 organizations, including civil rights groups, labor, faith as well as some law enforcement leaders sent a letter to John Morton, ICE’s director, on July 20th raising concern about the scope of the task force, its lack of transparency, and its inadequate process to review the program in light of the pending Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General audit. Groups urged ICE to immediately suspend the program.
A second letter with over 160 groups was sent to the task force asking them to resign following the August 5th, announcement by ICE that the agency would unilaterally terminate all agreements and impose the program on all cities and states despite objections that the program damages public safety and the decisions of Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts to not participation in the program. (attached) The agency’s shift to make the program an unfunded mandate after two years of operation and over 43 Memorandums of Agreements signed with states (they included termination clauses), defied basic democratic principles and further exposed the agency as rogue and lacking any regard for the “nation’s courts, local and state law-makers, law enforcement, and communities—much less this task force.”
At community hearings held this summer by the task force in Dallas, Los Angeles, Illinois, and Arlington, Virginia the members were met with massive protests, walk outs, acts of civil disobedience, and calls to resign from the “sham” task force and to end the program.
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….