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Rights Groups Call Effects of Shrouded ICE-Local Law Enforcement Collaboration on Communities Insidious

February 3, 2010

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Lawyers File FOIA Request for Information on Multibillion dollar Program; Majority Detained for Minor Offenses, Traffic Violations

February 3, 2010, New York, NY — Today, the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting information pertaining to Secure Communities, a little-known program of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency launched in March 2008. The program, which ICE claims targets “dangerous criminal aliens,” further involves local and state law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement. The three groups say that since the inception of the program, there has been a marked increase in racial profiling, excessive costs to state and local government and due process violations.

“The President has not only broken his promise to tackle immigration reform in the first year, the Department of Homeland Security is expanding a dangerous and ill-conceived program that is at the heart of our broken system,” said NDLON Director Pablo Alvarado. “President Obama can’t blame this on Congress—this program should be examined, debated and stopped if we are to have real comprehensive immigration reform.”

“This nothing more than a sanitized version of the 287(g) program—a program guaranteed to fail as we saw in Arizona with Sheriff Arpaio,” said Bridget Kessler, Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “It is already extremely challenging for local law enforcement to work with immigrant communities because of distrust and fear of deportation; this program will have disastrous effects on community safety.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Secure Communities has been implemented in at least 95 jurisdictions with plans to expand nationwide by 2013. It includes a biometrics component that requires an individual’s fingerprints to be run through multiple databases upon arrest for any reason, even if no charges are brought. Advocates and attorneys say that in addition to concerns presented by relying on potentially inaccurate and erroneous information in those databases, the program functions as little more than a dragnet to funnel even more people into the already overburdened ICE detention and removal system.

“This program is designed to fail because it relies on information from infamously inaccurate databases. We’ve already seen an increase in racial profiling, pre-textual arrests and mistaken identity of U.S. citizens,” said CCR attorney Sunita Patel. “Combined with the lack of regulation and publicly available information on Secure Communities, ICE will be essentially immune to accountability or transparency. With a budget reaching the billions, taxpayers should be very concerned.”

The FOIA request covers materials necessary to provide the public with comprehensive information on the Secure Communities Program, including policies, procedures and objectives; fiscal impact; data and statistical information; individual records; communications; and assessment records.

For more information on the Secure Communities program and the FOIA request, click here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org.

The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org.

The Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was founded in 2008 to provide quality pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants facing deportation. Under the supervision of experienced practitioners, law students in the Clinic represent individuals facing deportation and community-based organizations in public advocacy, media and litigation projects. Visit www.cardozo.yu.edu.

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