Secure Communities is now almost fully activated nationwide after the program was expanded in New York, Massachusetts, Colorado and other states last week. Secure Communities is a flawed program that requires local police to share fingerprints with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
ICE describes the program as a tool for finding and deporting criminals. Opponents say it damages relationships between immigrants and law enforcement and leads to racial profiling. Despite strong resistance from communities around the country, the Obama Administration deemed the troubled policy suitable for wholesale implementation. Here’s a sampling of how people responded to the news:
Ellen Cantarow said in a letter to the Boston Globe, “Anyone who knows the history of world fascism knows that when tyranny is on the march, “aliens” fall first, followed by all dissenters. Recall Martin Niemoller’s poem, which begins, ‘First they came for the communists,’ and ends with the line ‘Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.’”
Maegan La Mala at Vivirlatino wrote, “Given the latest report of racial profiling by the New York City Police Department which showed that 87 percent of those stopped were blacks and Latino, the implementation of S-Comm especially in urban areas with large immigrant populations is extremely concerning.”
Seth Freed Wessler, an investigative reporter for Colorlines, had this to say about the program going live in New York on May 15, “In many ways, tomorrow’s activation is just more of the same—Secure Communities has been expanding to new states for four years and the states are just the latest additions. But the states, especially New York, have huge immigrant populations, and so large numbers of people are likely to be deported once the government flicks the on-switch tomorrow”
Griselda Tomaino wrote the following in a letter to the Boston Herald on May 14: “Being an immigrant does not mean you are a criminal. Not having documentation to work or live in this country does not make you a criminal. It is a civil offense. We need a more comprehensive immigration policy, not one that induces fear in the communities.”
A New York Times editorial pointed out that “as long as the government outsources the initial decision on whom to stop and pull over to local police officers, many of them poorly trained and supervised, the danger of harassment continues. Trust is eroded in immigrant communities when people are too fearful to report crimes and cooperate with the police. That flaw is not going to be fixed by tweaking the detention policy.”