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In Dallas, DHS Task Force Hears Criticism and Complaints About Secure Communities

by Mahwish Khan on 08/11/2011 at 2:46pm

Secure Communities Last week, Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) created a firestorm when the agency unilaterally ended all of its Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) related to the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program.  ICE announced that the program will be mandatory, and it has caused an intense backlash among immigration advocates.

To make matters worse, ICE pulled this stunt while a task force (called the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Task Force on Secure Communities) is supposed to be studying the program.

Last night, that Task Force held the first of its town hall meeting in Dallas, and the members on the panel heard an earful. The message that S-Comm is an extremely unpopular and even dangerous program came out loud and clear — no surprise to us. From the Dallas Morning News: 

Dozens of people addressed a federal task force Tuesday night to complain about a federal law enforcement program that checks jail inmates for immigration status and criminal offenses.

The program, known as Secure Communities and run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has led to hundreds of thousands of deportations.

Many of those deportations do not even meet the criteria of the program, which is supposed to catch and deport serious criminals. However, most of those deported using the system — up to 61% — are people who have never been convicted of a crime, or were involved in minor offenses (think traffic violations). As a result, the program has made life worse for immigrants and community safety:

Galileo Jumaoas, the president of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce, said some immigrant entrepreneurs, particularly in the Korean community, are afraid to tell the police of crime problems for fear they’ll get targeted.

And that, he said, “creates more criminal acts and violence in our community.”

Yolanda Castillo-Crosley, an activist with the Texas Organizing Project, singled out the sheriff. Don’t be “an accomplice,” Castillo-Crosley said.

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