Wednesday, November 30, 2011
From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
Earlier this year, Los Angeles resident Isaura Garcia made a 9-1-1 call that changed her life…and did not result in the help she desperately sought to protect herself from violence. Instead, as a result of her call, Isaura was arrested, spent a week in jail, and was placed in deportation proceedings! Isaura, a victim of domestic violence, called for help and was instead arrested on mistaken charges of committing felony domestic violence. Although the charges were dropped, under the federal government’s Secure Communities program, Isaura’s fingerprints were passed along to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and checked against civil immigration databases.
Secure Communities(S-Comm) is designed to identify immigrants in the U.S. criminal justice system, who may be deportable under federal immigration law. However, it is now also being used to reveal non-criminal violations such as undocumented status, resulting in notification to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is then taking individuals, such as Isaura, into custody and placing them in deportation proceedings.
Thankfully, after community partners in Los Angeles held a press conference to publicize Isaura’s case, ICE ended the deportation proceedings against her. Coming forward to tell her story, Isaura says: “Secure Communities turned my life upside down. My 9-1-1 call for help resulted in the worst possible punishment I could have suffered.”
The ILRC has been opposed to S-Comm since the program began in 2008 and has participated in national, state, and local efforts to prevent or rescind implementation of S-Comm and limit local enforcement of federal immigration laws.
Now, more than ever, the ILRC needs your continued support. Please consider a tax deductible gift to support the ILRC in the fight against ICE enforcement efforts like S-Comm. Your support will ensure that our important work opposing S-Comm continues. Click here to make your donation today.
At the national level, the ILRC has provided technical assistance and participated in a national campaign against S-Comm. We engaged in administrative advocacy with ICE against the program and worked with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security to put pressure on ICE. We also helped produce the authoritative report, alongside other national immigration rights organizations, entitled “Restoring Community: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed Secure Communities Program.”
At the state level, the ILRC helped establish a network of advocates to combat the program, organized a “teach-in” with over 120 advocates, and created an S-Comm “toolkit” for advocates. We also have been engaged in strategies focused on educating the Attorney General, the California Department of Justice, and state lawmakers. Locally, we have supported advocacy and coalition building efforts to garner opposition to the program from local officials. We have been instrumental in establishing anti-S-Comm organizing efforts in at least seven counties and providing assistance in several other counties.
Our work in partnership with other key organizations has resulted in three California sheriffs and many police chiefs opposing S-Comm, and the passage of resolutions opposing the program in the counties of Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz, and the cities of Richmond, Oakland, East Palo Alto, and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, our work centered on supporting the sheriff in his efforts to opt-out of S-Comm. Based on our collaboration in Santa Clara, the County Counsel’s office issued a public memo which laid out the county’s options regarding S-Comm participation; this was the first known public document to state that, under federal law, immigration enforcement by local authorities is not mandatory, but voluntary, and therefore localities can limit their cooperation with ICE.
The ILRC will continue working with immigrant communities and immigrant rights advocates to pressure the federal government to protect the civil rights of all members of our community, including those of immigrants. We hope you will join us in our fight, and provide support with a tax-deductible contribution that reaffirms your commitment to fairness in immigration laws, justice in immigration enforcement policies, and to safeguard the basic human rights of all of this nation’s people.
Thank you again for your continued support.
Chair, Board of Directors
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