The ACLU of Southern California is calling for an end to Secure Communities (S-Comm), a federal immigration enforcement program that threatens public safety, undermines civil liberties and leads to deportation of people with minor offenses and no criminal convictions at all.
S-Comm requires local police departments to share fingerprints of arrestees with immigration authorities. Although the program purports to identify serious criminals, in practice it refers anyone booked into police custody, including crime victims and non-criminals, for transfer to immigration authorities.
“The fatally-flawed Secure Communities program must go. The program eviscerates the time-honored trust between local police and immigrant communities,” said Hector Villagra, Executive Director of the ACLU/SC. “The federal government has no business strong-arming states and localities into accepting a program that undermines public safety, encourages racial profiling, and consumes vital resources.”
The announcement will be made during a Monday evening hearing on S-Comm, part of a series of hearings DHS is holding across the country on the future of the controversial program. The ACLU and other civil rights groups have said that ICE cannot fix S-Comm by anything short of termination.
“DHS formed its Advisory Committee on Secure Communities in response to widespread criticism about S-Comm’s impact on communities,” said Villagra. “Yet the limited scope of its mandate, the lack of transparency about the times and locations of field hearings, and the fact that its recommendations will not be binding on DHS all underscore the continuing lack of accountability that have plagued S-Comm from the start.”
A growing number of jurisdictions – including New York, Illinois and Massachusetts – have formally demanded to opt out of S-Comm. But on August 5, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would override the states’ decisions, and that state permission was not necessary for DHS to operate the program. Isaura Garcia, a 20-year-old Los Angeles resident, was wrongly arrested by the LAPD after she called 911 seeking refuge from her abusive boyfriend. She will attend Monday night’s hearing.
“After what happened to me, I have no trust or faith in the police,” said Isaura Garcia. “So long as Secure Communities is in my community, I am less safe because I will never again call the police.”
In Los Angeles, S-Comm dramatically undermines the purpose of Special Order 40, a city policy adopted in 1979 to ensure that LAPD does not engage in immigration enforcement and immigrant communities feel safe reporting crimes to the police.
The DHS Advisory Committee on Secure Communities was formed in response to widespread criticism about S-Comm’s impact on communities.