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NY Advocates Disappointed by New “Secure Communities” Agreement & Vow to Continue to Push for Full Rescission

December 31, 2010

via Michelle Fei, 917.881.2638, mfei(at)immigrantdefenseproject.org (English)

Angela Fernandez, 646.734.4932, afernandez(at)nmcir.org (Spanish & English)

New York, NY (Dec. 30, 2010) – Representatives of a wide coalition of advocates responded to news of Governor Paterson’s revisions to the State’s “Secure Communities” agreement with dissatisfaction and frustration over its lack of meaningful changes. They also declared that they will continue to push incoming Governor Cuomo to fully rescind the agreement based on the program’s fundamental flaws.

“While we greatly appreciate that the Governor has listened to our concerns, the new agreement does not narrow the class of targeted immigrants as the State appears to think it does,” said Angela Fernandez of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, one of the more than 75 groups that has advocated with the Governor and elected officials to end the agreement. “We remain as adamantly opposed to Secure Communities because it is a costly program that undermines trust with the police, encourages racial profiling, and funnels immigrants into an unjust deportation system.”

Further, advocates assert, ICE has repeatedly demonstrated its lack of accountability and transparency, making it an agency for which New York should not subject itself to liability. Examples cited by advocates include ICE’s changing position on its classification of those targeted for deportation, priorities for deportation, and conflicting statements about the ability of localities to opt out of Secure Communities.

“Sadly, this new agreement is simply a reformulation of the flawed original that dramatically widened ICE’s deportation dragnet,” stated Michelle Fei of the Immigrant Defense Project, another coalition group member. “New York officials are still letting themselves get hoodwinked by ICE if they think this version is any improvement. We hope Governor-Elect Cuomo will do more to recognize that immigrants who have gone through the criminal justice system should not face deportation as an unfair second punishment.”

With no public input, the Division of Criminal Justice Services had signed an agreement with ICE in May this year to bring Secure Communities to New York. Under the controversial program, law enforcement agencies in the State would be required to automatically forward to federal immigration databases the fingerprints of US citizens, undocumented immigrants, and lawful permanent residents alike. Those suspected of being deportable would be transferred directly into the detention and deportation system, separating them from their families and communities.

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The New York State Working Group Against Deportation is a broad coalition of domestic violence, criminal justice, immigrant rights, family services, labor, faith-based, civil rights, and community-based organizations that aims to stop Secure Communities and other deportation programs.

Governor Paterson’s press release can be found here: http://www.ny.gov/governor/press/123010Announcement.html

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