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On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it was terminating all Memoranda of Agreements (MOA) that it had signed with state and local jurisdictions related to the Secure Communities (S-Comm) Program. Now, Immigrant rights activists are outraged about the announcement — and rightly so. They’re the ones who led the way for states to opt out of the controversial deportation program in the first place.
With this announcement, DHS is attempting to change the rules in the middle of the game. It’s also a slap in the face to groups that are organizing in states around the country. Wielding a considerable amount of influence, it was immigrant rights organizations in Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts that worked with their governors to opt out of this controversial program. That’s one reason this announcement that the program is mandatory and can no longer be negotiated through an MOA is particularly offensive to immigrant rights groups. The other is that it’s also legally suspect.
To provide a sense of how this announcement has gone over with our colleagues, we’ve compiled statements from some of the groups that have led the fight against S-Comm.
Here’s a particularly strong (but honest) reaction from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network:
Today’s announcement confirms ICE’s status as a rogue agency. The recent actions constitute a crisis not only for our civil rights but our democracy as a whole. Governments cannot rule by decree. We cannot allow the guise of security to undermine our democratic process. The unilateral overriding of contracts with states will surely result in court proceedings. In what is becoming a referendum on the Obama Presidency for Latinos, the announcement today is certain to result in a vote of no confidence in the Deporter-in-Chief.
“Once again DHS is trying to rule by fiat,” said Fred Tsao, ICIRR policy director. “This is not Libya, where security agencies make up the rules as they go along.”