Secure Communities Agreements cancelled, participation still required

August 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Updated: 8/5/11 04:25 PM ET  Huffington Post

Activists are outraged over a Friday announcement from the Department of
Homeland Security that it will move ahead with its controversial Secure
Communities immigration enforcement program, even if states do not agree to

announcement confirms [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]’s status as a rogue
agency,” Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer’s Organizing
Network and a vocal critic of Secure Communities, said in a statement.
“The recent actions constitute a crisis not only for our civil rights but
our democracy as a whole. Governments cannot rule by decree.”

The government
faces a backlash over Secure Communities, a program that allows federal
authorities to screen fingerprints of those arrested by local police in order
to detect undocumented immigrants. Critics say the program nets large numbers
of non-criminal undocumented immigrants and takes focus away from the primary
targets of immigration enforcement, violent offenders.

DHS implemented
the program in a number of states by asking governors to sign on using
memorandums of agreement, which helped DHS move toward its goal of spreading
the program nationwide by 2013. Earlier this year, states began to push back
against the program, arguing it threatens public safety and passes on
enforcement costs to local governments.

The program had
originally been referred to as voluntary, with DHS listing instructions for
states and local communities to “opt out.” But when Illinois and New
York terminated their memorandums of
with DHS in May and June, the agency confirmed it would continue to use fingerprints
taken by local police for immigration enforcement.

In effect, it
meant the agreements between state and federal authorities were meaningless.
The decision on Friday to stop creating memorandums of agreement canceled them

“ICE has
determined that a [memorandum of agreement] is not required to activate or
operate Secure Communities for any jurisdiction,” Immigration and Customs
Enforcement head John Morton wrote in a letter to governors.

DHS, meanwhile,
is attempting to rehabilitate the program in the public eye, announcing it will
develop new training to address civil rights concerns and fears over netting
victims of domestic violence.

continues to work with its law enforcement partners across the country to
responsibly and effectively implement this federal information sharing
capability and plans to reach complete nationwide activation by 2013,”
Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a

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