As DREAMers around the country fight deportations and demand administrative relief, the Obama administration is keeping its promise by enforcing a broken and racist immigration system. Today Secure Communities, the federal program that has helped Obama maintain record number deportations, goes live in Washington D.C.
In 2010 Washington, DC became the first local jurisdiction in the country to officially opt-out of S-Comm when the program was still voluntary. In response to growing criticism, the federal government cancelled local memorandums of agreement governing the program and made it mandatory.
At a press conference yesterday, councilmembers pledged their commitment to enact the Immigration Detainer Compliance Act that will mitigate the impacts of the “Secure Communities” program.
The act would limit Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s use of District facilities and equipment and also narrows S-Comm’s deportation dragnet by only responding to immigration detention requests for individuals who are over 18 and have been convicted of a dangerous crime. The Act which, which was unanimously co-sponsored by all DC councilmembers, builds upon the Mayor’s Order 2011-174 (October 19, 2011) which prohibits all public safety agencies from inquiring about individuals’ immigration status or transmit information about immigration status.
The act tries to do what S-Comm was allegedly supposed to do, target only “dangerous” and “bad” immigrants. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s own statistics have shown that has not been the case. That even so called “good” immigrants, those without serious charges have been put into deportation.
Despite efforts by local and national advocates and activists, the Secure Communities deportation program will go into effect in New York and other states tomorrow.
S-Comm is a Department of Homeland Security program that requires states to identify immigrants for deportation. While NY governor Cuomo and other governors across the country have expressed concerns regarding the difference between what how DHS says the program is implemented and what statistics show regarding the deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. There have been mixed messages and allegations of a cover up regarding the mandatory nature of the program. The intense roll out of the program despite complaints and protests seems to make the mandatory nature of the program clear.
Given the latest report of racial profiling by the New York City Police Department which showed that 87 percent of those stopped were blacks and Latino, the implementation of S-Comm especially in urban areas with large immigrant populations is extremely concerning. Immigrants account for more than one-third of the city’s residents and 29% of all voters in New York.
While the federal government attempts to make an example of Arizona by challenging parts of SB1070 in the Supreme Court and by suing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling, it continues to fast track a program that has contributed to racial profiling.
Advocates, organizations, individuals and the federal government all knew it was a sham from jump. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created a task force that went around the country hearing testimony and protests regarding the Secure Communities (S-Comm) deportation program. That task force issued a report last September saying that S-Comm threatened police community relations and therefore needed to be reformed, suspended or terminated. Last week, in what should come as a surprise to no one, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced one tiny tweak to the program. ICE says it will no longer put people in deportation proceedings arrested solely on a minor traffic violation as long as that person has no prior criminal history. Deportation will happen after a conviction.
Many organizations have released statements expressing outrage that ICE ignored the recommendations of it’s own task force, but really this should come as a surprise to no one. Ever since the program’s expansion under President Obama, it has been a driving force behind the over a million deportations that have taken place under his administration. The program has been highlighted as proof of Obama’s tough boots on the ground policy that contradicts numerous promises and press releases indicating discretion.
Yesterday, almost civil and human rights organizations from across the United States, and a few international organizations, sent a letter to the Secretary of Honeland Security, urging her to stop deportation programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities in Alabama. Many of the signatories, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), had already been calling for a stop to the policies that currently are deporting about 400,000 people a year in the United States, but the recent implementation of what is being called the harshest anti-migrant law in the country is compelling many to focus on Alabama.
Secretary Napolitano is targeted because the successful implementation of HB 56 is contingent upon cooperation and participation of DHS as the state law relies on the department to take custody of non-citizens identified through HB 56 for detention and deportation. The groups also urged DHS to promote and enforce its own guidance which limits state action in immigration matters, as well as exercise favorable discretion in any case that arises from enforcement of Alabama’s HB 56.
HB 56 combined with ICE pattern and practices specifically threaten Latinos in the state. Since immigration is racialized as a latino issue, people who are perceived as Latino will be targeted. Racial profiling threatens the 185,602 Latinos in Alabama, a population that while making up only 3.9% of the total population according to the 2010 Census, increased 145% in the last decade.
The Department of Justice is currently challenging the constitutionality of HB 56, which went into effect in September. I signed onto to the letter to Secretary Napolitano, but with a healthy dose of cynicism in terms of expectations. The Department of Homeland Security through Napolitano continues to defend it’s deportation record and Secure Communities. The White House continues to defend Secure Communities. It will be interesting to see how the Federal Government, who has helped to create the anti-immigrant atmosphere surrounding states like Alabama, further reacts to the crisis in the state. Will the answer be a policy change or a public relations campaign.
Last night, Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to publicly disclose by November 1 a previously withheld internal memorandum that advocates believe will shed light on the agency’s legal justification for turning Secure Communities into a mandatory immigration enforcement program.
The decision follows motions for summary judgment filed by all parties in NDLON v. ICE about the memorandum. The government claimed the memorandum was exempt from disclosure under the attorney-client and deliberative process privileges. Plaintiffs the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Cardozo School of Law Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic argued the memo was improperly kept secret from the public in the midst of important policy decisions related to Secure Communities. Indeed, this summer, opposition to Secure Communities reached new levels with the Governors of Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York formally rejecting the program. In response, ICE announced that all of its Memorandum of Agreements with States were dissolved and that the program would be imposed unilaterally. Despite serious questions from States, local jurisdictions, and advocates about ICE’s legal authority to make the program mandatory, the agency continued to withhold information about its legal reasoning and sought to keep the legal authority memorandum secret.
I’m hoping some of the legal heads from VivirLatino would offer up what the impact could be were it revealed that ICE explicitly meant this policy to be mandatory from inception but chose to deceive states and counties into signing on by implying that participation was optional.
In the end, I am not sure if it even matters. The fact remains that as it stands now, Secure Communities is one part of an overall national immigration policy that is focused on keeping deportation numbers up, while keeping immigrant communities, especially people of color immigrant communities down.
I watched the special report last night and sadly wasn’t surprised by anything presented. The issue of how the Obama administration has focused on increasing deportations, using programs like Secure Communities, is one we have covered for years. I expect though that this program exposed how the current immigration policy is tearing apart families and leading to physical and sexual abuse inside the big business of detention centers to a new audience.
One of the disappointments I was left with after watching Lost in Detention was the way the show seemed to serve as a mic for the excuses given by the Obama administration for the terror it’s policies create. The answer that seemed to be given by Hinojosa for the question “what can be done to stop the deportations and growth of abuses?” was Comprehensive Immigration Reform. There were snippets of speeches by Obama and an interview with the administration’s vendecomunidad Latina spokesmodel Cecilia Muñoz. Some choice quotes from Muñoz:
“even broken laws have to be enforced.”
“as long as congress gives us $ to deport 400,000. That’s what we’re going to do.”
The farce of a task force, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Advisory Council Task Force, that attempted to tour the United States to instill confidence in a process that didn’t really exist, released a final report last week that included recommended tweaks to the mass deportation program.
The report contained no bombshell revelations. It confirmed what many advocates and activists have been saying since the program was expanded under President Obama (let us not forget that back then many advocates also said the program was ok since it targeted “criminals”). In fact many of the findings echo those in a report released last month by a coalition of organizations : its adverse impact on community policing; inaccurate and incomplete information about the program provided by ICE to state and local officials; and the lack of clarity on whether the program is in fact legally mandated.
Five of the task force’s 19 members, including all three who represented labor unions, and the former police chief of Sacramento Arturo Venegas, resigned, citing objections to the recommendations contained in the committee’s final report.
While the resignations are noteworthy, they are as much of a show as the task force itself. The resignations, happening after task force tour meetings were met with protest after protest, carry no weight, no consequence. A far stronger and more principled stance would have been to not participate in this toothless process from jump. Additionally, while across the board, the non-profit responses have been in support of the resignations and non-surprise at the findings and recommendations of the task force, with the additional demand of shutting down the program completely, there is still a centering on how S-Comm comes between police and community and/or negatively impacts “community policing”. While #altopolimigra is the most favored hashtag of the moment, I have yet to see a defining of “community policing” or any real acknowledgement of how even without enforcement programs, local police tend to terrorize immigrant people of color communities.
Sources : NY Immigration Coalition Press Release, National Immigration Law Center Press Release
Ten undocumented youth were arrested on Tuesday during an act of civil disobedience at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to DREAM Activist , the action was a protest against a number of anti-immigrant policies in the state including discriminatory policies towards undocumented students at community colleges, and the criminalization of the undocumented community as a result of programs like 287g and Secure Communities, which is active in 100% of counties in North Carolina. The site was also chosen because and to hold the Democratic party accountable to their inaction and often supportive hand in perpetuating this current attack on the immigrant community. Charlotte was also targeted because it is the site of the Democratic National Convention next year, and the current Democrat led administration has so far deported over a million immigrants and have expanded enforcement policies. It also cannot be forgotten that when the DREAM Act came before Congress last year, Democratic North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan voted against the bill.
A spokesmodel is a spokesperson whose physical appearance contributes to brand equity.
When I think of Latina spokesmodels, I think of the women of Sabado Gigante : leggy, tetona, culona bottle blonde white women smiling holding up the next product we just have to have. They are stereotypical examples of what Latinidad should be and in general mass audiences comsume that image, internalize that identity, as much as whatever dishwashing soap the jingle is asking us to purchase.
Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, plays an equivalent role well in Latino politics. She has proven to be the Latina spokesmodel for Obama’s immigration policy, prioritizing deportations over any executive action that could be taken and attempting to sell this destructive product to us in English and Spanish.
In response to the coordinated protests across the country happening against the expansion of the Secure Communities deportation policy, the White House officially responded through a post, with Muñoz’s name, on the official White House Blog.
The title of the post, In the Debate Over Immigration and Deportations, the Facts Matter, implies that the protesters, organizations and community members are lying about the impact of Secure Communities. In other words : potential Latino voters – the White House doesn’t believe you.
Their is a call growing for Cecilia Muñoz to resign from her position. Many feel that she is incapable of stepping back and actually listening to criticisms. Some may say she is simply doing her job and that Latinos should be happy to have someone in the White House. We are told to wait until November of 2012 and let the election sort it out, not to personalize the issue. That this S-Comm is part of a larger immigration policy strategy and that Muñoz is a genius and has done much in terms of immigration.
I counter that asking how many deportations past the one million mark will we be at in 2012. Is this level of deception acceptable because it is coming from the Democratic Party and not the GOP? I am pretty certain that those whose loved ones are being deported take the issue very personally.
This is not about quitate tu pa’ponerme yo. This is not about careerism. Certainly this is about a policy that is destroying families under the cover of taking care of the “bad guys”. Cecilia Muñoz can keep selling with a smile, a service that is harmful to our communities, or she can keep it real and resign.
When the Secure Communities Task Force took their sham of a “community hearing” to Arlington, Virginia earlier this week, they heard testimony for, but mostly against the deportation policy that has contributed to a million deportations under the Obama administration.
It should be noted, that in the video above Maria Bolanos, whom we have written about, is peaking directly to the assistant director of Secure Communities , Marc Rapp.
Like in meetings past, the action included a call for task force members to resign and a walk out. After the walk out, the meeting did continue.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the site of the first S-Comm task force meeting, there was a protest at the federal detention facility, that ended in the arrests of five people, included DREAMers. All of those arrested have since been released.