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Advocates Support Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Call for Investigation into Secure Communities Program

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CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

April 28, 2011 – Today California Representative Zoe Lofgren (16th District) called on the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton, as well as the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to investigate ICE’s Secure Communities fingerprint- sharing program in two separate letters. Rights groups National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law support Lofgren’s call for an investigation into Secure Communities and whether local jurisdictions and states have the ability to “opt out” of the program.

In her letter to the OPR, Lofgren wrote: “It is unacceptable for government officials to essentially lie to local governments, Members of Congress, and the public…It is critically important you thoroughly investigate this matter and that any misconduct result in real consequences.”

Secure Communities has been criticized and condemned throughout the country since it began in 2008. Through to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by NDLON, CCR and Cardozo in April 2010, a series of documents and internal emails have been released by advocates which have shown dishonesty and confusion among federal and state officials charged with implementing the program.

“It’s a good thing the former governor of Arizona – the one who originally procured Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 287(g) contract in the first place – doesn’t get to rule by decree in Washington, DC,” said Chris Newman, Legal Director for National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The groups also commend Senator Robert Menendez’s statement in support of Rep. Lofgren.

NDLON v. ICE litigates President Obama’s flagship “Secure Communities” biometrics program, currently operating in 1,188 jurisdictions in 41 states as of April 12, 2011. Rights groups say the program makes state and local policing central to the enforcement of federal immigration law. The program automatically runs fingerprints through immigration databases for all people arrested and targets them for detention and deportation even if their criminal charges are minor, eventually dismissed or the result of an unlawful arrest. The documents released as a result of the litigation have shown widespread internal agency confusion about the program’s voluntary nature as well as the government’s heavy-handed implementation strategy. Mayer Brown serves as co-counsel in the case.

For more information on NDLON v. ICE or to view documents produced by the government, visit the Center for Constitutional Right’s legal case page or www.uncoverthetruth.org. Click here to read the letter from Lofgren to Janet Napolitano and John Morton (PDF).

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.