- New York Governor
Ask Gov. Cuomo to Withdraw from “Secure Communities”
Police, elected officials, and religious leaders all agree. New York must withdraw from “Secure Communities” which turns local law enforcement into an arm of ICE. Please add your voice to the chorus asking Gov. Cuomo to protect us all by separating our police from immigration enforcement.
Keeping New York safe depends on building trust between police and immigrant communities. Immigrants, like all of us, are the eyes and ears of the police. Recognizing this, many of our police departments have done groundbreaking work in improving cooperation with newcomers, making all of New York more secure against violent criminals. When New York joined ICE’s “Secure Communities” program, that progress began to unravel.
Secure Communities requires that local police in New York State run the fingerprints of all arrestees through an ICE database that tags immigrants for deportation. Nationally, the majority of those deported under Secure Communities are immigrants who have never been convicted of any serious crime. While New York was assured by the Department of Homeland Security that police departments could opt-out of Secure Communities, ICE now insists that as long as the state is a participant, all police in our state must share immigrants’ fingerprints with ICE.
Immigrants now rightly perceive the police who are sworn to protect them have been enlisted by ICE as immigration enforcement agents. They worry that police in counties like Suffolk and Putnam with a history of racial profiling are arresting immigrants on slight pretexts to remove immigrants from certain communities. “Secure Communities” is building a wall of mistrust between law enforcement and newcomers.
We don’t want New York to become the next Arizona!
- New York Governor
Governor Andrew Cuomo,
The decision by the State of Illinois to withdraw from the so-called “Secure Communities” program of ICE should be emulated by New York. Gov. Quinn said his state was withdrawing from “Secure Communities” because the program made immigrants mistrustful of local police and could encourage racial profiling. Those same concerns should lead you to immediately halt New York’s participation.
Last year Gov. Paterson agreed to join “Secure Communities” after receiving assurances that individual police departments could opt-out. The Department of Homeland Security has now unequivocally reneged on those assurances. Police departments cannot refuse to participate even I they believe Secure Communities compromises public safety.
While “Secure Communities” is described by Homeland Security as a way to remove dangerous criminals from our communities, the evidence points in the opposite direction. Nationally, most of those deported under the program have never been convicted of any serious crime.
Instead of making our communities more secure, when New York joined the program Gov. Patterson erected a wall of mistrust between immigrants and the police. As New Yorkers have seen family members turned over to ICE for deportation following traffic infractions or after having been arrested for minor crimes, they have begun to ask why you are allowing our respected police officers to be used as immigration enforcement agents. As parents of U.S. citizens are transferred by police to ICE for prolonged detention and certain deportation, New Yorkers are demanding to know who will comfort and care for the boys and girls they leave behind and who will pay to support these youngest victims of our failed immigration system?
I urge you to end New York’s participation in this insidious program that only makes our communities more insecure.
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