May 4, 2010, Washington, DC – Today Councilmembers Phil Mendelson, Jim Graham introduced the “Secure Communities Act of 2010” with the unanimous support of the Council. This is a ground breaking bill that will prohibit the DC Metropolitan Police from sharing arrest and booking information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last November, Chief Lanier signed a Memorandum of Agreement with ICE to implement the so-called "Secure Communities" program that forwards arrest and booking information of arrested individuals in the District regardless if they have not been found guilty of a crime or if their arrest is unlawful.
“Contrary to its name, the Secure Communities program makes the public less safe by creating fear and mistrust of the police and undermining community policing” said Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At-large), the bill's primary author. "I'm proud that so many of my colleagues are joining me in introducing this bill to offer a strong counter-statement to the one recently made in Arizona.
Arizona—a known testing ground for “Secure Communities” and other police-ICE partnerships—demonstrates the dangerous and disastrous consequences of the federal governments’ devolution of their exclusive authority over immigration to local and state governments. Today the council chambers were filled with community, labor, and civil rights leaders as well as residents that supported the councilmember’s leadership in asserting the City’s and the nation’s values.
Sarahi Uribe, from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said she was hopeful the law would be replicated elsewhere, adding: "The Secure Communities and 287g experiment gave rise to the disaster in Arizona, and it's now time for it to end."
Said Jaime Contreras, Area Director for SEIU 32BJ and Chair of the MD/DC SEIU State Council, “We will not stand by and watch as our community is targeted. This is Washington DC, the capital of freedom. We commend the Council for introducing this bill.”
Last week, advocates in Washington DC launched the “Uncover the Truth on Police and ICE Collaborations” (www.uncoverthetruth.org)—a national campaign in fourteen cities to demand an end to the dangerous and disastrous police-ICE programs such as “Secure Communities.” Today’s bill introduction and ongoing community organizing have inspired other advocates throughout the country to do the same.
"The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, declared that she wants the Secure Communities program in every U.S. jail by 2013," said Mackenzie Baris, Director of DC Jobs with Justice. "Today our city is saying that we plan to stop it right here in the nation's Capitol."
For more information on CCR's work around the so-called Secure Communities program, visit www.UncovertheTruth.org or visit CCR's legal case page.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.