Sunday, August 7, 2011

ICE reverses on S-Comm, Calls program "mandatory"

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicated its intent to unilaterally nullify its contracts and mutual agreements with over 40 state partners, according to shocking news issued late Friday afternoon. The agency under the Obama administration is arguing that state participation in the controversial Secure Communities [informally termed "S-Comm"] program is actually mandatory, not voluntary. [See copy of letter obtained by the LA Times.]

The Secure Communities program, currently under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, had already received intense criticism. In S-Comm, the fingerprints of anyone booked by local law enforcement are sent to ICE to check against its immigration databases for potential deportation. But governors of various states have protested the program, calling it ineffective in removing serious criminals and noting that it also handicaps local law enforcement by compromising the immigrant community's trust of local law enforcement.

This latest announcement released a cacophony of protest from human rights groups, immigration advocates and lawyers. National Day Laborer Organizing Network indicates that ICE's move throws their already discredited deportation program into further disarray and confusion, as the "rogue agency" ignores governors and courts, not to mention the democratic process itself.

Chris Newman, Legal Director of NDLON immediately issued an intense critique in a statement Friday, subtitled "DHS Cannot Rule by Decree."

"Today’s announcement confirms ICE’s status as a rogue agency. The level of deception involved in S-Comm so far has been alarming , but this moves things to another level. A contract is a contract—but apparently not when it comes to ICE.

A federal judge already found that DHS and ICE went out of their way to mislead the public about Secure Communities. Today’s announcement shows that ICE also systematically misled the states, engaging in protracted negotiations--at substantial cost to the American public--for what it now claims are sham contracts.

All the deception in the world can’t hide the fact that the S-Comm is horrible policy. By entangling local police in immigration enforcement, S-Comm is criminalizing immigrants and leading to the Arizonification of the country. Ultimately, the announcement today only puts into further question the legal basis for the program. ICE can no longer be trusted to police itself."

ICE calls S-Comm, a program intended to deport serious criminals, "highly successful." And indeed, the Obama administration deported 77,000 immigrants convicted of crimes, including some 28,000 convicted of serious offenses [murder, rape and sexual abuse of children] through S-Comm. But that is but a tiny fraction of the record-breaking 1 million people deported under this administration. By DHS’s own figures, 895,000 deportees lacked a criminal record.

Looking at those numbers leads immigrant advocates --like the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance--not only to question how effective S-Comm actually is, but also to wonder at the actual intent of the Obama administration with respect to immigration.
Obama's "Secure Communities" Program has Deported More Immigrants than Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback."  
IMAGE CREDIT: Alfredo Burgos "Albur" & NDLON 


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

This does not make me happy with President O.

Billie Greenwood said...

Thanks for your comment, Nick. You're not the only unhappy person. I'm reading many comments expressing discontent from immigration reform and pro-migrant advocates. They see a major "disconnect" in the Obama administration between talk and action with respect to this issue.

Vicente Duque said...

Billie :

Thanks for illustrating and explaining important developments to us.


Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona on SB 1070 : "It's not touchy at all because we're the ones who sued them and won" - "We can have effective immigration enforcement, but we don't need to do it the way SB1070 did" - "I think on its face it's unconstitutional and it's dividing our community"

"There's a lot of hate in our society. This country has come a long way, but we've got a long ways to go". -

Arizona Daily Sun -
U.S. attorney ready to pursue hate crimes -
By Eric Betz -
Saturday, August 6, 2011 -

Some excerpts :

Federal prosecutors want help from the community to enforce new civil rights laws.

In a well-attended public forum held on Thursday at the Murdoch Center, Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, told local leaders and community members that he was anxious to prosecute crimes under recently passed hate crimes legislation.

"We want victims to come forward so we can enforce laws," Burke said.

Also on hand was Allison Bachus, the assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the Civil Rights Unit, who gave a presentation on the current status of civil rights law.

The U.S. Attorney's office handles cases ranging from misconduct by public officials to hate crimes and human trafficking. But until recently it had limited ability to punish bias-motivated crimes.

In 2009, Congress approved the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It is named for a gay man who was tortured and murdered for his sexual orientation in Wyoming and a young black man who was dragged behind a truck and killed in Texas.

Before the new law, it was difficult to prove hate crimes, and they only carried a misdemeanor offense, Bachus said. The offense also had to happen while the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity, such as going to school or voting.

Now, federal attorneys can more easily prove a crime was motivated by prejudice and it's an automatic felony. Additionally, they can now pursue cases that local authorities don't.

"This is really serious stuff and it needs to stop, and the only way it's going to stop is if it gets enforced," Bachus said. "What's the good of having all these new laws if they don't get put into action?"

Billie Greenwood said...

Thanks, Vicente, for the update on hate crimes. "Fear is the way we die" said the song back in the 60's. Hate crimes deal death to our society.