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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that he is suspending his state’s participation in the ineffective Secure Communities deportation program based on concerns over its impact on community policing and public safety. Governor Cuomo explained:
The heart of concern is that the program, conceived of as a method of targeting those who pose the greatest threat to our communities, is in fact having the opposite effect and compromising public safety by deterring witnesses to crime and others from working with law enforcement.
With Gov. Cuomo’s decision, New York joins a number of other states and experts in calling on the federal government to reform or rescind Secure Communities. Until these major concerns are addressed it is likely that many more states, law enforcement officials, and other leaders will continue to speak out and opt out of the program. As the following timeline makes clear, concern over secure communities is growing increasingly and has become louder and clearer in the past few months.
September – October 2010: Communities like Arlington County, VA and San Francisco, CA raise concerns over the Secure Communities Program and seek to opt out of the program.
October 2010 – The Benjamin Cardozo Law School, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network release a study based on data obtained from DHS. The report highlights that ICE has been apprehending and deporting a majority of non-criminal immigrants. Seventy-nine percent had no criminal record “or had been picked up low level offenses, like traffic violations and juvenile mischief.” Nearly one-third (28 percent) of people transferred to ICE custody under the program have been non-criminals, not even charged with a low-level offense. The report also documents emails that reveal coercive tactics on behalf of DHS to dismiss localities’ concerns about the program’s impact on community policing and force them to participate in the program.
April 2011 – Federal Policymakers Call for Investigation: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member of the House Immigration Subcommittee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), call for an investigation of Secure Communities.
May 2011 – CHC Calls for Reform: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) calls for a moratorium on Secure Communities pending an evaluation of the program’s goals, implementation, and consequences.
May 2011 – Illinois Terminates its Involvement: Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn (D-IL) terminates his state’s participation in Secure Communities, noting that “the implementation of the Secure Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose
May 2011 – DHS OIG Announces Investigation: The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will investigate the Secure Communities program.
May 2011 – Law Enforcement Continues to Speak Out Against Program: Police and law enforcement experts continue to speak out against Secure Communities, become among the loudest and most credible voices in highlighting the problems with the program.
June 2011 – New York Suspends Involvement in Program: New York Gov. Cuomo suspends his state’s participation in the ineffective Secure Communities deportation program.