Ever since Illinois Governor Pat Quinn terminated the agreement between his state and the federal Secure Communities program, pressure has been building for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to follow suit.
Secure Communities, run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), allows local police to share with federal authorities the digital fingerprints of anyone arrested in the state. The program—often called S-Comm—is designed to find and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes like murder, kidnapping and threats to national security.
But as Gov. Quinn noted in his May 4th termination letter to Marc Rapp, Acting Assistant Director of Secure Communities:
“(T)he implementation of the Secure Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose of the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement between the state and ICE)… By ICE’s own measure, less than 20 percent of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime.”
Recently, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) called for an investigation of ICE and S-Comm and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged President Obama to stop S-Comm, saying “fusion of police and immigration functions carries serious risks for public safety, civil rights and community-police relations.” In response, DHS acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards wrote Rep. Lofgren saying the agency is planning a review of the program in 2012.
According to ICE, the program has been activated in 1,298 jurisdictions in the country (41 percent) and in 27 jurisdictions in New York State (44 percent). The agency plans is to have it fully implemented by 2013.
This story was produced by Feet in Two Worlds, a project at Milano The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.