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Rights Groups Condemn Arizona Bill as Racist, Warn of Dangers of ICE-Police Collaboration in Lawsuit Challenging Government Secrecy in ICE Program

April 27, 2010

PRESS RELEASE

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FOIA Lawsuit Filed, National Campaign Launched to Expose ICE Enforcement Program Advocates Say Has Devastating Effects on Community Safety

April 27, 2010, New York, NY and Washington, DC — Today, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law filed a lawsuit demanding records related to the little-known United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) “Secure Communities” program that further involves local and state police in federal immigration enforcement. The filing also marks the launch of “Uncovering the Truth,” a weeklong national campaign of coordinated actions and advocacy in more than ten cities to end ICE-police collaboration.

“The passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona should be proof enough of the dangerous and disastrous nature of ICE-police collaboration programs like the so-called Secure Communities program,” said Pablo Alvarado, NDLON Executive Director. “The President should heed his own advice and act responsibly by reclaiming the federal government’s exclusive authority over the nation’s immigration laws. By terminating all police and ICE partnerships, the President can help restore community safety and protect civil rights and due process for all.”

“At a time when police and ICE partnerships have clearly failed, ICE is moving swiftly to implement the Secure Communities program in every U.S. jail by 2013,” said CCR attorney Sunita Patel. “Contrary to its name, this latest ICE program makes the public less safe. There is no doubt that the program has and will continue to deepen fear and mistrust of the police in our communities.”

Advocates say that last week’s passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona and the rapid expansion of Secure Communities, which is already operating in 168 jurisdictions in 20 states with more agreements anticipated in the next few days, is cause for alarm, particularly without publicly available information on error rates, costs, oversight, accountability, racial profiling and other civil rights complaints.

“This is a massive, invasive and untested federal immigration enforcement program that ICE has been deceptive and secretive about from the start,” said Bridget Kessler, Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “Without more information, we cannot allow for the spread of this dangerous ICE program.” Of the little that is known about the program, the groups say Secure Communities requires local and state police to run individuals’ fingerprints through multiple databases upon arrest, even if no charges are brought and regardless of how minor the charges are. 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 racial profiling dragnet to funnel even more people into the overburdened and mismanaged ICE detention and removal system.

The plaintiffs seek the 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. Plaintiffs filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in February 2010 seeking these materials. Despite ICE’s rapid expansion of the program, government agencies have not yet released the requested records.

The filing of the litigation marks the launch of “Uncovering the Truth,” a weeklong national campaign of coordinated actions and advocacy, including the release of preliminary findings based on a survey done in Morristown, New Jersey and the release of a comprehensive report from Miami, Florida on the effects of local law enforcement and ICE collaboration on community safety. Local press contacts, press conferences and events are listed below and can be found at www.UncovertheTruth.org.

To read the complaint or for more information on the Secure Communities program, visit www.UncovertheTruth.org.

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.

The mission of the National Day Laborer Organizing 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.

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.

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Also see: A Week of Coordinated Events and Advocacy on Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Police Collaboration

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