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“Chilling Effect” of Secure Communities Exposed as Task Force Meets in Northern Virginia

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Stop Secure CommunitiesTonight, from 7 – 9 PM ET, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Secure Communities task force will hold the last in a series of field hearings at Founder’s Hall on the campus of George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. If the past events in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago are indicators, we can expect tonight’s gathering to be met with intense protests.  Community members will no doubt raise serious concerns about the program and the damage it is having on the relationship between police and immigrants.  And this time, DHS is clearly expecting a boisterous crowd. The hearing notice states:  

**No noisemakers or other distracting or loud devices will be permitted.**

The task force is a non-governmental group appointed by DHS to review this controversial program and make recommendations. Each hearing has provided an opportunity for advocates and activists to showcase their antipathy to the program.

In advance of tonight’s event, local and national immigration experts will discuss the impact that certain federal-local deportation programs are having on community policing and public safety in a conference call with reporters. During the press call, scheduled for 1 PM ET, America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) will release a new report, Public Safety on ICE: How Do You Police a Community That Won’t Talk to You?” which uses examples from across the country to document the “chilling effect” that police-DHS collaboration has on immigrant crime victims and witnesses, and describes how programs like Secure Communities (S-Comm) actually make all of us less safe.

America’s Voice’s Deputy Director Lynn Tramonte will moderate the call. She’ll be joined by Alexsa Alonzo, Associate Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association; Marisa Vertrees, Social Justice Coordinator, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Arlington, VA; and Ada Williams Prince, Policy Director, OneAmerica, Seattle, WA. The call will be live-tweeted here (follow @WeAreOneAmerica for updates).

As we’ve noted repeatedly, the Obama administration’s Secure Communities program has come under attack in recent months by law enforcement, Governors, Mayors, editorial boards and advocates for crime victims and immigrants.  Despite its stated goal of focusing in serious criminals, the program has led to the deportation of thousands of innocent people, and is destroying the relationship between police and the immigrant community. It’s one reason the Obama administration is approaching the one million mark for deportations.

To reinforce the opposition to Secure Communities, Dream Teams in California are planning an action in Los Angeles today. Via press release:

On Wednesday August 24th at noon Undocumented youth face their fears and confront Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) in front of the Federal Building in Downtown Los Angeles. Undocumented Youth will “come out” of the shadows and publicly declare that they are undocumented and unafraid in an effort to bring attention to the destructive “Secure Communities Program” and call for its termination.

Earlier this month the Obama Administration rescinded all of its “Secure Communities” contracts with states and cities and declaring that the program was mandatory. Through the “Secure Communities” which has been imposed on communities the Obama Administration has been responsible for the deportations of over two million people. In Los Angeles the Department of Homeland Security held a community hearing on the program to address concerns of the program only to further enrage the community and hundreds of participants walked out.”

As Undocumented students we are tired of Obama and his lies and we need to call him out,” said Ruben Barrera who’s brother was detained a day after Obama announced his “policy change” for a broken headlight. Ruben’s brother, Isaac was held for 2 days and was issued an ICE hold after ICE interrogated him numerous times. “It was torture, I was cold, they insulted me and they threatened to come after my family, if it wasn’t for community organizations that helped me get out I could have been deported” said Isaac Barrera.

The action will be livestreamed here.

Also, we’lll be livetweeting from tonight’s Task Force hearing, so tune in to our twitter account (@americasvoice).