Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Julianne Hing writes for Colorlines:
The resistance to the immigration enforcement program Secure Communities has reached a deafening roar as immigrant rights groups ramp up their organizing to demand an end to the Obama administration’s aggressive deportation initiative.
Tuesday marked what immigrant rights groups labeled a national day of action as they continue to urge the Obama administration to halt the program. Protests in sixteen cities were announced for the day, which coincided with the release of a scathing report by more than a dozen immigrant rights groups which condemned the program and also recommended its immediate termination. The White House responded late Tuesday by defending Secure Communities, and its record-breaking deportation rate.
“The Secure Communities Program is a powerful tool to keep the government’s immigration enforcement resources focused where they belong - on those who fit within DHS’s highest enforcement priorities, such as those who have committed crimes in the United States,” Cecilia Munoz, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote in a blog post late Tuesday.
The program’s critics, and ICE’s own statistics, dispute Munoz’s claims. While Munoz noted that Secure Communities is responsible for the deportation of an unprecedented number of people with criminal records, the majority of that growth is due to a major uptick in the arrest and deportation of people who’d been convicted of what ICE classifies as Level 1 offenses, which are minor crimes and misdemeanors. Taken together, the vast majority of people being kicked out of the country under Secure Communities either have no criminal record whatsoever, or are being deported for crimes like traffic offenses or shoplifting.
Munoz’s response indicates that the White House will likely not back down from its deportation efforts, even in the face of mounting criticism from elected officials, law enforcement and immigrant rights groups over the program’s impacts on immigrant communities. Read more...