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Press Release: DHS to Pursue 'Secure Communities' Deportation Plans
Dismisses Widespread Protest of Dragnet Program

From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Friday August 05, 2011 - 03:34:00 PM

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that they would be rescinding the Memoranda of Agreement with over 40 states that allow the sharing of fingerprint data between local police and DHS under the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program. The announcement came as a surprise to immigrant community organizations and advocates who have sought an end to S-Comm and appeared to dismiss formal protest from a number of states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York, about participation in the program. California is poised to pass legislation to halt its participation in Secure Communities. 

The DHS has said it would continue to move forward with the program without state agreements, apparently closing any door that states could “opt out” of the controversial program, viewed by immigrant community groups as a “dragnet” to identify and channel undocumented immigrants into detention and deportation. S-Comm is slated for implementation in every county in the country by the end of 2013. 

NNIRR’s Executive Director, Catherine Tactaquin, called the announcement, “a slap in the face to immigrant community, groups, advocates, elected officials, and even members of the law enforcement community who have raised repeated concerns about the increase in racial profiling, prolonged detention, and traumatic deportations due to Secure Communities.” She continued, “Clearly, DHS hopes to derail the nationwide protest against S-Comm and is intent on using it to help accelerate its strategy to deport as many immigrants as possible.” 

The DHS announcement also came less than one week before the start of a series of local hearings in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, North Virginia and Boston. The hearings, along with the establishment of a new Advisory Committee, were apparently created in response to complaints about the Secure Communities program. NNIRR and some 200 other organizations recently criticized the Advisory Committee as insufficient to address the serious issues surrounding S-Comm, and have called for a halt to the program. Recently released federal documents have also revealed that Secure Communities is a part of the FBI’s Next Generation Information System to fuel federal data-gathering on everyone in the country, further confirming that Secure Communities puts in great peril the rights and dignity of all people in the United States, regardless of their immigration status.