While saying, in words, de la boca pa’ fuera only, that immigrants are vital contributors to the American society; the Obama administration has done everything possible to prove to immigrant communities that there’s a divide in this country.
A high of epic proportions in deportations and an overstretch in the Secure Communities program, fueled by a letter to the Governor’s stating that the Department of Homeland Security will not need a Memorandum of Understanding with each State to operate and that States cannot opt out any longer, added to a great assortment of anti-immigrant bills spewed at Congress, and you start to get a bleak picture.
Secure Communities, a fingerprint sharing program at the time of arrest, and all of these bills have created a “hunted” feeling within immigrant communities. And it is not only the undocumented who feel the backlash. It’s all the immigrants. Welcome to the new USA!
ICE is currently running the program in 44 states and plans to achieve nationwide coverage in 2013.
Local law enforcement agencies routinely send fingerprints to the FBI for criminal background checks when an individual is arrested. Under Secure Communities, the FBI shares the fingerprints with Homeland Security to look for potentially deportable immigrants.
And, boy, have they found people! DHS has stated that they are focusing on hard-core criminals, but the truth is that many caught by the new hunters have committed minor offenses.
Immigrants are terrified to go on with their regular routines because of the policing, racial profiling and the potential for mistakes in processing.
Demonstrations across the country this week against S-Comm were also a reminder to President Obama that he cannot play to both sides and win.
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) has stated that the Secure Communities program in fact undermines public safety and has not lived up to its stated goals of identifying and deporting serious criminals rather than non-criminal immigrants. He called the latest changes on the S-Comm program “unacceptable.”
“Governors and mayors, including Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, have demanded removal from this deeply flawed program because of the public safety concerns and unachieved goals […] As I go out around the country, the first thing I hear about is the massive increase in deportations followed closely by concerns about how state and local law enforcement are being ordered to participate in those deportations. Adding a whole new layer of suspicion and confusion by changing the rules and declaring it a non-negotiable federal mandate for every state and locality further erodes any semblance of legitimacy the program ever had.
Its rules and regulations are a moving target; its effectiveness in accomplishing stated goals has been called into question with credible evidence; and now there is a growing call for investigations and an ever increasing number lawsuits related to the program’s implementation and to the transparency with which it has been carried out,” Rep. Gutierrez said in a letter sent to Ice Director, John Morton.
Cecilia Muñoz, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs made matters worse Tuesday with an entry blog where, in an effort to defend the administration’s position, she stated: “Fixing the broken immigration system so that it meets America’s economic and security needs has been and continues to be a priority for President Obama […] 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.”
Interesting choice of words: “meets America’s economic and security needs” and “keep the government’s immigration enforcement resources focused where they belong.”
I guess that says it all. Message received loud and clear.