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Anti S-Comm

Anti “S-Comm” Campaign

The Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program is a mass deportation program that asks local police to agree to help identify deportable immigrants to ICE. Thus, the so-called “Secure Communities” program actually creates community insecurity by scaring immigrants from cooperating with the police, for fear of being identified as non-citizens, presumed to be wrongfully here, and therefore threatened with deportation.

S-Comm and other collaborations between ICE and local police:

(a) Jeopardize our safety by creating a climate of mistrust between communities and law enforcement and force immigrants both not to report crimes and not to cooperate.

(b) Offend values of liberty, due process and justice by forcing immigrants to get treated differently from US citizens in criminal proceedings and funneling people into the inhumane deportation system where they have no “ fair day in court”.

(c) Encourage racial profiling by giving the police incentives to make pretextual arrests in order to transfer people into deportation.

(d) Impose significant costs on our localities by forcing them to absorb cost of mass incarceration.

(e) Force local taxpayers to fund the costs of illegal detention and deportations.

NY Counties with S-Comm as of April 5, 2011 are: Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess, Genesee, Nassau Orleans Sullivan, Ulster, Orange, Suffolk, Westchester, Monroe, Schuyler, Wyoming

Our Response

On April 27, 2010, the Coalition, along with our partners the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the immigration law clinics of NYU Law School and the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School, Families for Freedom, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and the Immigrant Defense Project, held a press conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit demanding records related to S-Comm be released.

That lawsuit resulted in the release of figures showing that although ICE claims it will only deport “serious criminals,” nearly 70% of those deported by S-Comm have no criminal records or only minor offenses.

On July 29, 2010 as part of the effort to highlight the problems of local and state enforcement of federal immigration laws, we organized a 3,000-person March over the Brooklyn Bridge to demand the end to NYC’s collaboration with ICE and programs such as S-Comm and Arizona’s SB 1070.

We had hoped to persuade Gov. Paterson not to sign the agreement in the first place, but after he left office in January, 2011 we learned that he had, without any consultation, publicity, or public announcement, already signed the agreement on behalf of NY State. Therefore our campaign is necessarily focused on trying to persuade the new Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to rescind that agreement – even while the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) kept changing its public announcements as to whether it is even possible for a locality to “opt out” of the Secure Communities program.

To register your opposition to this program, you can sign a petition addressed to Gov. Cuomo here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-s-comm-in-new-york

Momentum Builds

In early May 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois terminated S-Comm in his state, saying that “that the implementation of the Secure Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose of the MOA… By ICE’s own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime.”

The New Sanctuary Coalition has been calling on Gov. Cuomo to follow the example of Gov. Quinn.

We held a vigil on May 11th with diverse religious leaders and community advocates to pray for Gov. Cuomo and the communities bearing the burden of S-Comm enforcement.

We held a rally and press conference on May 18th with NY elected officials, immigrant families and community advocates to call on Gov. Cuomo to end New York’s participation in S-Comm.

Victory

On June 1st, 2011 Gov. Cuomo announced the suspension of S-Comm in New York State.  Faith leaders applauded his courageous decision to end this dangerous and divisive program.

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