National contact: B Loewe, NDLON, 773-791-4668
Somerville Mayor to Sign Order Limiting ICE Holds, First in Massachusetts to Join National Trend Against Federal S-Comm Program
S-Comm is a “wall between police and community” says Police Chief
“All eyes on Massachusetts” as immigrant communities look to other localities to follow suit
May 22, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts——Wednesday, the Mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts, Joseph Curtatone, announced he will sign an executive order limiting local application of ICE holds, one component of the controversial Secure Communities program (S-Comm), at a signing ceremony on Thursday at 5:30pm Eastern. The announcement comes one week after President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced they would take a "fresh look” at the deportation dragnet program—widely criticized for contributing to rampant racial profiling and an unprecedented level of deportations.
June 28, 2013, New York – The day after the Senate passed a disappointing immigration reform bill, the U.S. government agreed to pay over $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees in the historic Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit NDLON v. ICE. Rights groups brought the case in 2010 to force the government to turn over documents about the so-called Secure Communities (SCOMM) program. Since its rollout in 2008, SCOMM has spread nationwide, over the protests of local and state leaders, and contributed to the Obama administration’s widely criticized, record-setting deportation numbers. Through SCOMM, the federal government targets all people booked into local jails, regardless of how minor the charges, even if charges are dropped, which has resulted in widespread
During a legislative session that should bring political equality and inclusion, shouldn't Congress and DHS be budgeting for an increase in immigrants' integration? Why are Congress and DHS budgeting for an increase in deportation, an increase in suffering, and an increase in discrimination? Undocumented Americans should be seen as potential citizens not potential deportees, and that view should be reflected in our national budget."
Sacramento - Today, following several impassioned floor speeches, the California Assembly approved the TRUST Act (AB 4 - Ammiano) by a vote of 44 to 20. The nationally-watched bill would limit harmful deportations often stemming from trivial or discriminatory arrests and rebuild community confidence in local law enforcement.
The vote comes days after an unprecedented survey of Latinos in four cities, including Los Angeles, confirmed that police involvement with immigration enforcement has significantly undermined community confidence, with 44% of responds less likely to contact police officers if they have been a victim of a crime. Among undocumented immigrants, 70% were less likely to contact law enforcement.
Freedom of Information Act Suit to Shed Light on Tactics to Halt California TRUST Act
SAN FRANCISCO, April 9, 2013—The Asian Law Cacus, a legal and civil rights organization serving low-income Asian Pacific American communities, has sued federal immigration authorities for information about whether they helped defeat a bill meant to limit entanglement between California law enforcement and U.S. immigration agencies.
The lawsuit seeks information from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act about possible efforts to encourage the Governor’s office and state sheriff’s association to oppose the TRUST Act, AB-4.
Had the TRUST Act passed last year, it would have restricted California's involvement in the Secure Communities program, which relies on local police to hold individuals suspected of being deportable upon arrest until ICE can pick them up for possible deportation. Last summer, the bill reached Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk with robust support from both legislative houses, but he vetoed it.
Immigrant Communities Rallied Today in Support of the TRUST Act authored by Sen. Eldridge & Rep. Sciortino
Boston, MA -
As momentum for federal immigration reform grows, Massachusetts is set to lead the nation by advancing the TRUST act, a state bill to provide immediate relief from deportations, strengthen public safety, and propel the national conversation on immigration reform towards inclusion. Specifically the bill sets a clear standard for local law enforcement agencies not to submit to burdensome requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) most often prompted by the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program to detain people for deportation who have otherwise been ordered released by the courts. The bill is authored by Sen. Eldridge in the Senate and Rep. Sciortino in the House and was introduced with 34 cosponsors.
FBI, DHS and ICE Agree to Release Crucial Documents Relating to Controversial
Deportation Dragnet Program, Secure Communities
March 15, 2013, New York – Last night, a federal judge approved a settlement between the government and several rights groups in a long-running lawsuit demanding transparency in the controversial Secure Communities (SCOMM) program.
Since its rollout in 2008, SCOMM has spread nationwide, over the protests of local and state leaders, contributing to the Obama administration’s widely criticized, record-setting deportation numbers. The program targets all people booked into local jails, regardless of how minor the charges or even if no charges are pressed at all. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently come under fire for revelations that it has trolled state agencies and local jails looking for low-level offenders so as to meet its arbitrary criminal deportation quotas.
Statistics reveal failure of ICE's latest guidelines, add urgency to passage of TRUST Act
March 11, 2013 - An analysis of new data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has found that 1,941 Californians were deported in the first month of 2013 alone, an alarming figure that would have been significantly lower were the TRUST Act already signed into law. The revelations spurred renewed calls for the Governor to quickly fulfill his pledge to advance a new version of the bill, which would limit wasteful, extended detentions of aspiring citizens in local jails for deportation purposes.
Despite new guidelines which ICE claimed would focus deportations on the most serious cases, well over a thousand people deported this January fell outside of ICE's (flawed) priorities:
- 238 people had no convictions
- 557 people had minor or "level 3" convictions
- 351 people had minor or "level 2" convictions
The numbers come as recent cases illustrating ICE's excesses have sparked anger in immigrant communities. Just this morning, ICE took Los Angeles day laborer Hector Nolasco from Sheriff Baca's jail after he was arrested for standing up for his rights at the workplace and retaliated against by his employer with a false police report. Also wrongfully arrested and placed into deportation proceedings because of S-Comm is Bakersfield farm worker Ruth Montaño who faces deportation after a bizarre, unjustified arrest over a complaint her small dogs were barking too loudly.
Each day that the Governor delays on the TRUST Act more people like Hector and Ruth are swept into S-Comm's dragnet at an alarming rate of nearly 2,000 each month. The deportation crisis has led other states like Massachusetts and Connecticut to sponsor their own versions of the TRUST Act in what is becoming a trend of local policies setting model legislation that protects public safety and propels the national immigration debate forward.
"If the TRUST Act was signed into law, Hector Nolasco would not be behind bars right now. And if President Obama suspended deportations, Hector could help advocate for new immigration laws that protect labor rights, so this type of thing never happens again," said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "Instead, Hector is separated by his family today, because political leaders have a gap between rhetoric and reality. It is immoral to play politics with immigration when the lives of people like Hector and his wife and daughter hang in the balance. Leading on immigration requires actions and requires action now. The most effective way for Governor Brown to influence the immigration debate is to take concrete action to protect the people in his state."
States and cities across the country are taking the initiative to use their constitutional powers to improve public safety and advance the inclusion of their immigrant residents by limiting ICE’s overreaching hold requests. New bills are expected to pass New York's city council this week as California, Connecticut and Massachusetts advance TRUST Act state legislation.
“I’ve been working on the TRUST Act for more than two years, and I’m happy to see other states and local governments joining in the effort to reduce the abuses of the S-Comm program,” said Asm. Ammiano (D-CA). “That’s the good news. The bad news is that productive Californians will still be deported day after day until we can enact AB 4. Ruth Montaño of Bakersfield is just one especially awful case. We know that two of three Californians deported under S-Comm are people with no convictions or minor ones. Local law enforcement needs clear guidance so they don’t continue to help ICE create chaos up our communities. My office is working with Governor Brown to craft a policy that will work for all of California.”
On the call, the story of Ruth Montaño, a mom and 13-year resident from Bakersfield, CA, illustrated the ludicrous overreach of ICE and the urgent need to pass the TRUST Acts. Montaño is herself facing deportation because of a neighbors' complaint regarding her barking dogs. Despite the abusive and unjustified circumstances of her arrest, Ms. Montaño was held for a week on an ICE "hold" request. The TRUST Act would have prevented her unfair detention, and immigrant rights groups are hopeful Gov. Brown will fulfill his promise to quickly advance a new version of the bill.
State Sen. Eldridge (D-MA) said, “Alarming statistics show that the number of immigrants being deported across the nation have no actual criminal record. The TRUST Act puts a stop to the strain and anguish caused by families being torn apart and seeks to restore faith between our community members and law enforcement by establishing that it is not the responsibility of local law officials to enforce federal immigration laws.”
In recent weeks it has been revealed that a deportation quota of 400,000 per year drives current immigration policy and has drastically altered the relationship of local law enforcement to immigrant communities. New data has exposed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued some 1,000,000 detainer requests to local jails during much of President Obama's first term but only 8.6% of those requests were for people convicted with crimes that ICE considered serious and 77% were for people with no conviction whatsoever.
"We have expanded immigration enforcement from the federal to the local level, but we have not created more secure communities," Rep.Gary Holder-Winfield (D-New Haven, Hamden) said. "We have created communities of fear among people who are here for many reasons, including the aspiration to becoming American citizens. We have created communities that avoid interaction with police at all costs; the costs of their health, of acting as witnesses to crimes, at the cost of those of us who were lucky enough to be born in this country. So, I am working on this bill to put in place the protocols to reduce fear, set forth clear policy and do our part to maintain the security of the residents of this state," he said.
While controversy has surrounded the Secure Communities (S-Comm) deportation program since its implementation, such revelations have created new urgency for local states concerned with violations of civil rights and the erosion of trust in local law enforcement as a result of the Administration's decision to enlist local police as 'force multipliers' in immigration enforcement.
Following the TRUST Act initiated in California (reintroduced as AB 4 - Governor Brown has planned to ), Connecticut (HB 5938) andMassachusetts (S 1135) are the latest states to file similar bills. The TRUST Acts create a baseline standard that guides local law enforcement to improve public safety by limiting ICE’s dragnet hold requests.
As proven in municipalities with similarly enacted policies such as Cook County, Illinois and Washington DC, passage of TRUST Acts increase safety, improves trust between immigrant communities and police, saves valuable local resources, and propels the immigration debate past cynical efforts to criminalize immigrants and toward meaningful reform. Call participants will explain how their states are setting an example of curtailing cruel enforcement and preventing those who could soon qualify for legalization from being deported before reform is passed.