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ICE Statistics Reinforce Advocates’ Call for Immediate End to NY Deportation Program

A wide coalition of advocacy groups intensified its demand today that Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately terminate the state’s involvement in Secure Communities (S-Comm), Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) mass deportation program, in light of mounting evidence of the program’s problems.

Recently released federal data shows that, in New York, more than 70 percent of immigrants transferred into ICE custody from the criminal justice system and more than 80 percent of immigrants deported by ICE through S-Comm had not been convicted of a crime. These statistics add weight, said advocates, to the multiple reasons for ending collaborations with ICE, which has come under increasing fire for using deceptive tactics in order to secure states’ participation in S-Comm. Last week, a letter released by a former ICE contractor revealed that ICE intentionally misled New York to obtain the state’s participation in Secure Communities.

Although ICE has promoted Secure Communities as a key tool to protect communities by identifying immigrants with serious criminal records for deportation, the data shows that the program really functions to help the agency meet deportation goals and raises serious concerns about racial profiling, due process, and the erosion of trust in police.

“The DHS is deceiving New Yorkers about S-Comm,” said Udi Ofer, advocacy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Secure Communities is not a public safety measure. It’s a dragnet that tears apart families, invites racial profiling and creates distrust between police and immigrant communities. Governor Cuomo should immediately withdraw the state from this destructive federal program.”

Advocates said that evidence is also growing that ICE’s efforts to correct the program through revising state agreements or protecting certain groups of individuals is meaningless, a point reinforced by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and the former ICE contractor.

“The only solution that would be meaningful is a full and immediate termination of Secure Communities,” said Michelle Fei of the Immigrant Defense Project. “If Cuomo wants to protect the people of New York, he has no other option than to end the program now.”

“We should not tolerate Secure Communities in any form because it funnels people directly into an unjust deportation system, while jeopardizing public safety and violating due process rights,” said Mizue Aizeki of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “More than anything, we all need to recognize that it is unfair for immigrants to face deportation as a second punishment for having contact with the criminal justice system.”

In recent weeks, Illinois Governor Quinn rescinded its agreement to participate in S-Comm, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, joined by Sen. Menendez, called for an investigation of ICE, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged President Obama to stop S-Comm immediately. In New York, 38 state legislators – joined by U.S. Reps. Jose Serrano and Nydia Velasquez – called upon Governor Cuomo to terminate the state’s S-Comm agreement while religious leaders and advocates held vigils and rallies demanding an end to the program.

Analysis of the ICE data and the letter from the former ICE contractor are available here.

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