Good morning. I want to thank the ACLU of Southern California, CHIRLA, NILC, MALDEF and the National Day Laborers Organizing Network for holding this press conference today to highlight the serious problems the Secure Communities Program is having on Los Angeles County residents. I wish I could be there in person to add my voice to all of your concerns.
I want to begin by stressing that I support the stated goals of the Secure Communities program. Anyone who is undocumented in this country and who has been convicted of a serious, violent offense should be removed from this country. Period.
But that’s not what’s happening. When you look at the numbers, nearly half of the undocumented individuals from LA County who have been taken into ICE custody have not committed or been convicted of a serious, violent offense.
And it gets worse. Native born American citizens are being illegally detained by the Secure Communities program - right here in LA County. In fact, during November alone, three American citizens born right here in the US were imprisoned in LA County because the Secure Communities Program mistakenly believed they were undocumented immigrants. This is unacceptable.
It is clear this program doesn’t work. Not only is it entrapping native citizens, it has driven a wedge between the Los Angeles law enforcement and immigrant communities. This jeopardizes police work and public safety. That is why the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General investigated this program.
And now, the imprisonment of native born American citizens is more compelling proof that Secure Communities is wrong for LA City, wrong for LA County and wrong for our country. That’s why today, I sent a letter along with other LA Area Members of Congress calling on the City and County to take steps to limit the impact of this program. They should immediately adopt policies that restrict the circumstances in which local authorities will agree to enforce ICE’s request to detain individuals under the Secure Communities Program.
And if similar measures have been taken in New York City, Santa Clara County and Cook County, Illinois recently, well it is time for the City and County of LA to limit its participation as well, until the concerns being raised about Secure Communities are properly addressed. It is simply the right thing to do to protect the safety and welfare of all of our residents, and to truly ensure that we have safer, more secure communities.