Newly Released Secure Communities Documents Signal Opening for Local Opt-Out

Feb 16, 2011 –  Today, advocates made available excepts of 15,000 pages of documents released following litigation by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights and Cardozo Immigrant Justice Clinic, seeking documents from federal agencies related to the voluntariness of  “Secure Communities,” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program quickly spreading throughout the country.  
Since the fall, the federal government has taken the position that Secure Communities is not an "opt-in opt-out" program. 
Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, plaintiff in the FOIA lawsuit, commented, “Contrary to the current ICE official position, local opt-outs appear to be possible. The readings indicate that states most likely do have the power to keep this devastating program out of local jurisdictions. The amount of dishonesty revealed in this process would make anyone question whether ICE recognizes it’s operating in a democracy.”
“Reading these documents raises questions about ICE's authority to require local participation in the program,” continued Bridget Kessler of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. "While the basis of ICE's policy may be unclear, the bottom line is not: communities should not be forced or coerced into a program with such far-reaching implications for civil liberties and public safety." 
Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights said, "The internal email communications show government agencies manipulating answers to questions from Congress, media, and local policy makers. This level of deception is contrary to fundamental notions of transparent government." 
The attached briefing document highlights some of the agency’s misleading statements to Congress, state, and local officials, the internal confusion behind the program’s implementation, and questions regarding the legal authority for federal authorities to force the program onto local jurisdictions. Across the country, communities have raised concerns about the impact on community-police relations, the high number of those deported under the program with no conviction record, and the evidence of crime victims being swept up in its dragnet. Advocates continue to call for a moratorium on the program’s implementation due to the extent of disinformation and the questions raised by these new documents.
A Preliminary Briefing Guide of Documents is available at:


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Last modified 

February 17, 2011