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Immigrants’ Rights and Criminal Justice Groups Join Together to Condemn Merger of Criminal Justice & Immigration Systems

September 29, 2010


CONTACT: Jacqueline Esposito, Detention Watch Network,, 202.393.1044 ext. 223

578 National & Local Organizations Sign Letter to the President

Demanding an End to Practices that Harm their Communities

Image from Just Seeds

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Citing systemic problems within both the immigration and criminal justice systems, 578 groups from across the country including Detention Watch Network today delivered a letter to President Obama calling for an end to the merger of immigration enforcement with criminal justice. The three-page letter expressed concerns and presented proof that the Obama administration’s increased reliance on local law enforcement to arrest, detain, and deport immigrants has exacerbated existing problems in the criminal justice system.

According to the groups, “The merger of immigration enforcement and local criminal justice agencies is not only bad public policy, it also sabotages local law enforcement agencies’ core mission of protecting public safety by undermining the trust of the communities they serve. It discourages people from turning to the police when they need to, even to report crimes. It undermines public safety by diverting scarce resources away from local policing and focuses them on false threats from people who look or sound foreign.”

Secure Communities, 287(g), and the Criminal Alien Program – the Obama administration’s signature immigration enforcement programs – all rely on heavy involvement from and cooperation with local law enforcement to siphon immigrants into the immigration enforcement and detention system and, ultimately, through deportation proceedings.

“Under the Obama administration detentions and deportations are at a record high,” said Jacqueline Esposito, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Detention Watch Network. “To meet its deportation quotas, this administration has relied on local police agencies – with little to no regard for whether an agency has a history of engaging in racial profiling.  The result has been the needless destruction of families and communities.”

As the letter to Obama points out, abuses within the criminal justice system have been well documented, and racial profiling continues to plague even traditionally immigrant rich cities. In New York City, for example, more than 81 percent of those stopped by police are Black or Latino.

“The racial disparities prevalent throughout the nation’s complex criminal justice system are aggravated in the current context of immigration enforcement,” said Nicole D. Porter, state advocacy coordinator for the Sentencing Project, a national organization that works to create a fair and effective criminal justice system. “The Obama administration can engage in more humane and legitimate enforcement by working to find solutions that fix both the broken criminal justice and immigration systems.”

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a coalition of community, faith-based, immigrant and human rights service and advocacy organizations and concerned individuals working to reform the immigration detention and deportation system so that all who come to our shores receive fair and humane treatment.

To read the letter addressed to President Obama and view the full list of organizational sign ons, download it here:

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