Journal of the San Juan Islands


Forum to focus on 'Secure Communities', civil rights abuse | Letters

March 20, 2013 · 1:23 PM

The local Friends of the Constitution Coalition are pleased to sponsor a free, educational forum of importance to all in San Juan County, by Ms. Nadia, Kayyali, Legal Fellow, of the national Bill of Rights Defense Committee, titled, “Are you Aware of the Secure Communities Program?”

The talk, followed by a town hall discussion, will be presented at the Skagit Valley College on March 21, from 7-9 p.m.

Secure Communities is a federal immigration enforcement program created as a voluntary program in 2008 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security and Cabinet Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Washington State activated the program April 2012. Some Washington Counties, including San Juan, were already participating.

The stated goal is to make the program mandatory by 2013. The program is an information-sharing partnership between ICE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation designed to identify “criminal aliens”.

The program purposes, as stated in a 2009 report to Congress, are to: “1. Identify criminal aliens through modernized information sharing; 2. Prioritize enforcement actions to ensure apprehension and removal of dangerous criminal aliens; and 3. Transform criminal alien enforcement processes and systems to achieve lasting results.”

Under the Secure Communities program, the fingerprints of those arrested are sent to the ICE and to the FBI. The net effect, according to former ICE Secretary Julie L. Myers, is to “create a virtual ICE presence at every local jail.”

Our understanding is that the fingerprints of any person arrested, for any reason, are electronically forwarded to the ICE before, not after, their conviction. In addition, the national data are that the Secure Communities program is being abused in some jurisdictions by racial profiling, and that persons who have not committed a crime, including legal immigrants, are being deported.

Further, law enforcement officials, mayors, and governors across the country have stated that the Secure Communities program undermines the trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

Friends of the Constitution Coalition/Friday Harbor

— Editor’s note: FOCCFH works in cooperation with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee



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