Fear Over Secure Communities: More Immigrants Will Be Lost in Detention System

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City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez has announced that he will introduce a Council resolution calling on Governor Paterson to remove New York from the controversial immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities.

“This is not Arizona,” Rodriguez said. “We were able to pass a resolution in the City Council against SB 1070 and we are here today ready to introduce another resolution this coming stated meeting of the Council where also we expect that all City Council members will sign it. And will we be able to send again that message loud and clear that we are against Secure Communities.”

Flanked by immigration advocates and concerned community members, Rodriguez said the program — which would require local police to share the fingerprints of individuals in custody with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — would overburden the city’s police precincts and prisons and result in insecure neighborhoods.

ICE maintains that Secure Communities is designed to find and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes like murder, kidnapping, and threats to national security.

But advocates counter that 79 percent of people deported through the program from October 2008 through June 2010 had no criminal record or were arrested for minor offenses like traffic violations. Rodriguez’ resolution represents the latest effort by local immigrant leaders to pressure Governor Paterson into rescinding the state’s Secure Communities Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) before the end of his term.  The MOA was signed in May, but New York State officials say no county in the state has implemented the program.

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This story was produced by Feet in Two Worlds, a project at The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Feet in Two Worlds' New York election coverage is supported, in part, by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.