FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2011
Eliana Machuca, Portland Jobs with Justice, 503-703-1407,
Natalie Patrick Knox, CAUSA Oregon, 503-915-5701
Erik Sorensen, CAUSA Oregon, 503-488-0263
Oregonians to participate in National Week of Action against failed S-Comm Program
Members of the immigrant, faith, labor and civil rights community to deliver report to elected officials today
Portland, Ore--This Week, the Safe Communities Project, a coalition of immigrant and civil rights organizations, is joining with faith, labor, and community leaders in Oregon and around the country to ask elected officials at every level to stand against the Department of Homeland Security’s fatally flawed and misnamed “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) program.
Already several events raising awareness about the highly controversial program have happened around the country this week including in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, Tucson, Arizona, and Chicago, Illinois.
Today, as part of the national week of action, members of the Safe Communities Project will be going to city, county, and state elected officials, the offices of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation, and sheriff's and police departments in Portland, Salem and Bend to deliver a report released on Monday condemning the S-Comm Program.
RESTORING COMMUNITY: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed “Secure Communities” Program, released by NDLON and a National Community Advisory Commission, is a shadow report to DHS’s S-Comm Advisory Committee that was convened to water down the wildfire of opposition. The report focuses on the failed and fundamentally flawed “Secure Communities” program and gives a firsthand account from individuals who have been swept into S-Comm’s deportation dragnet—mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, workers, and students from across the United States.
The full report can be downloaded by linking here: http://altopolimigra.com/s-comm-shadow-report/
On August 5th, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that they would unilaterally withdrawal the Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) that they had originally signed with 39 states when implementing the program. Despite increasing national criticism from Governors, law enforcement officials, and community leaders, DHS said that these agreements, which provided a mechanism for states to “opt-out” of S-Comm, were never needed and that the program will continue to expand.
“In light of the widespread criticism of Secure Communities coming from an array of stakeholders, including community groups and public safety officials, ICE should suspend Secure Communities until the misinformation and misapplication that have plagued the program from the beginning are corrected,” said Ashlee Albies, Co-Chair of Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and civil rights attorney with Creighton & Rose. “ICE's recent actions undermine our system of democracy and weaken protection for already vulnerable communities in Oregon."
While sold as a program to target serious criminals, ICE’s own statistics show that 77% of people identified as a result of S. Comm. have been arrested for lesser offences, including traffic violations, while nearly one third of those had no criminal record. Additionally, ICE has consistently rejected calls for greater transparency. A federal judge hearing Freedom of Information Act litigation against ICE over S-Comm stated that “[t]here is ample evidence that ICE and DHS have gone out of their way to mislead the public about Secure Communities.” The program is currently under scrutiny by members of Congress.
Key Facts about the “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) Program:
• S-Comm separates families and destroys communities, violates our due process rights.
• DHS is using S-Comm as a vehicle to meet the agency's deportation goal of 400,000 people per year, subjecting people to detention and deportation regardless of whether or not they committed any "crime," the degree of severity of legal infractions, how long ago any charges occurred, what kind of rehabilitation has taken place, or what ties they have to communities.
• S-Comm compromises our communities' safety by driving a wedge between local police and the communities they are supposed to serve, adding to the already tenuous relationship.
• S-Comm encourages racial profiling and indiscriminately funnels immigrants into an unjust and dysfunctional immigration detention and deportation system.
The Safe Communities Project is a coalition of immigrant & civil rights organizations which includes VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project. Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition, Oregon New Sanctuary Movement, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, North West Immigrant Youth Alliance, American Friends Service Committee, Jobs with Justice and CAUSA , Oregon’s Statewide Immigrant Rights Coalition.