June 30, 2010 Washington D.C. – Yesterday, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued a memo outlining its ”Priorities for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Aliens" in the controversial Secure Communities program. The priorities outlined indicate a shift in focus from pre-conviction removals to post-conviction removals. While the memo appears to narrow the scope of this ICE program that further involves local and state law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement, rights groups are skeptical.
Sarahi Uribe, organizer with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and national coordinator for the Uncover the Truth Behind Police and ICE Collaboration campaign, said, " The re-branding won’t fool the community—this program is too flawed to fix.. ICE's stated priorities and its implementation on the ground have never matched up. Since its launch, Secure Communities overwhelmingly identified and deported people charged or convicted of minor offenses even when its stated top priority was serious criminals. Given ICE’s horrendous track record and its failure to disclose information on the program, we are left with the same unanswered question—how will ICE implement its priorities?"
This spring, the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, NDLON v. ICE, requesting information pertaining to the little-known ICE program launched in March 2008.
Bridget Kessler, attorney at the Benjamin Cardozo Law Clinic added, “Police-ICE programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities create a dangerous merger and are similar to even more radical steps like Arizona's S.B. 1070. We hope President Obama's speech tomorrow reasserts the federal government's exclusive authority over immigration and the basic constitutional protections and due process rights that apply to all inpiduals living in this country."
Said CCR staff attorney Sunita Patel, "ICE should respond to our federal FOIA lawsuit on Secure Communities. It is unacceptable that ICE continues to implement the Secure Communities program under of veil of secrecy leaving communities, elected officials and law enforcement in the dark. Instead of answers, the government has rolled out the program at exponential speed despite the overwhelming demand for answers to questions."
Advocates from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Benjamin Cardozo clinic will be available for comment after the President's remarks tomorrow.
The ICE memo can be found at http://www.ice.gov/doclib/civil_enforcement_priorities.pdf
For more information on the Uncover the Truth Behind Police-ICE Collaboration campaign visit: www.uncoverthetruth.org. For more information on the FOIA lawsuit, please visit http://ccrjustice.org/secure-communities.
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.