Tomorrow, come rain or shine, individuals and organizations will gather outside of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office to demand that he immediately end the agreement that brought Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) “Secure Communities” mass deportation program to New York State exactly one year ago.
The rally, scheduled to start at 11 am EST, comes in the midst of heightened (and dare I say long overdue) controversy around the S-Comm program that requires police to automatically forward the fingerprints of every arrested person to federal immigration databases . Earlier this month the Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked President Obama for a moratorium on the program on the grounds that the program deports “good” immigrants not just those with criminal backgrounds. Last Friday, U.S. Congressional members representing parts of New York, Congresswoman Velazquez and Congressman Serrano, sent a a letter to NY Governor Cuomo requesting that he pull the state from the program citing how it has become “a mass deportation immigration enforcement tool.”
This assertion, that the problem with Secure Communities is not just that it targets “good” immigrants along with the “bad” criminal ones, but that it is part of a larger enforcement, detention, and deportation machine that has been amped up under Obama, sets this NY campaign somewhat apart from others. Campaigns in Maryland and bills like the SMART bill in Illinois and the TRUST Act in California focus on the “misuse” of the program in deporting those without serious criminal convictions as opposed to an all out recall of the program for the way it furthers a national immigration policy that refuses to acknowledge the humanity of immigrants in favor of deportation.
Another key point made by some in the struggle against Secure Communities is that it fosters a climate of mistrust between communities and law enforcement and encourages immigrants both to not report crimes and to not cooperate. This is exemplified by what happened to Isaura Garcia, a battered woman whose call to 911 led to her being put into deportation proceedings (which have been stopped). This is like what happened to Maria Bolanos last year. Some, myself included, argue that the relationship between law enforcement and people of color immigrant communities has always been one of mistrust and rightfully so given how our communities are locked-down by discrimnatory stop and frisk practices and are victim to selective enforcement that attempts to excuse abuse. Most recently, Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca has become the latest police spokesperson for racial profiling, touting Secure Communities as something that undocumented communities essentially deserve.
Today Baca came out in favor of S-Comm saying it works because it deports “the bad guys”. It seems though, according the Baca, all undocumented immigrants are “bad”. On a radio show last week, Lee Baca, said that he doesn’t believe that undocumented people have civil rights (saying without a hint of irony that he supports human rights), that he supports deporting people with minor traffic violations and those charged with crimes, not just those convicted of crimes. In the interview Baca parrots what many defenders of racial profiling say, that those stopped and arrested are always engaged in illegal activity, denying proven racial profiling across the country. There is a push for Sheriff Baca to either retract his statements, which go against the basic precept of equal protection under the law, or resign.
For those in NYC the details of the rally are :
Wednesday, May 18
633 3rd Ave (between 40th St and 41st St)
Closest subways are the 4,5,6, and 7 trains.
For those that are not in NYC but want to add support to stopping S-Comm in the state, Change.org has a petition.