Insecure Sanctuary

A controversial fingerprinting program might have quietly ended local protection of immigrants

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The collaboration between federal ICE and local police is troubling immigrant rights advocates.

Sarah@sfbg.com

The Board of Supervisors is urging San Francisco officials not to participate in Secure Communities, a controversial federal-local fingerprinting collaboration set to be activated June 1. But opting out of a program that threatens to make debates over "sanctuary city" protections of immigrants irrelevant may not be easy.

Speaking at a May 18 rally, Sup. Eric Mar warned that the use of Secure Communities by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could cause the deportation of innocent residents and destroy local community policing efforts. "The police-ICE entanglement will hurt our communities and many people accused of minor crimes will see families torn apart," Mar warned, as he urged the city to opt out of the Department of Homeland Security initiative, which identifies immigrants who are sitting in U.S. jails and may be deportable under federal immigration laws.

Cosponsored by Sups. John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Chris Daly, Bevan Dufty, Sophie Maxwell, and Ross Mirkarimi, Mar's resolution was scheduled for a May 25 vote that would make San Francisco the first jurisdiction in the nation to pursue withdrawing from the system.

"The shadow of Arizona is starting to cover other cities," Mar said, referring to Arizona's anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. "We can't let Arizona come to San Francisco."

ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice said the program's focus is on criminal aliens. "These are folks who have been charged with or found guilty of felonies and have ignored deportation orders," Kice said.

But ICE statistics show that the program mostly deports those with minor offenses. Between October 2008 and March 2010, Secure Communities submitted 1.9 million sets of digital fingerprints and deported 33,326 people nationwide. Fifteen percent of those deported (4,903 people) had criminal histories that included major drug and violent offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and kidnapping (Level 1 crimes). The other 85 percent (28,423 people) were deported for less serious drug and property offenses (Level 2 crimes) and other minor charges (Level 3 crimes).

Kice admits that Level 2 and 3 offenders constitute the largest percentage of SC cases. "That's because representatively more people are arrested for Level 2 and 3 offenses than Level 1," she said. "That's probably fortunate, because Level 1 crimes are very serious."

But American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Joanne Lin warns that Secure Communities allows the federal government to circumvent local sanctuary policies and fast-track deportation. "It allows the Department of Homeland Security to identifty everyone who is booked, whether they are here lawfully or their charges are subsequently dropped or dismissed," Lin said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he has no reservations about the program, which the Bush administration first announced in March 2008. "Sanctuary city policies were never meant to protect criminal behavior," mayoral spokesperson Tony Winnicker said May 7, when San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey blew the whistle on the federal-local fingerprinting collaboration. "At the end of the day, federal officials should enforce immigration laws. We report — we don't deport."

The program links local law enforcement databases to the Department of Homeland Security's biometric system through interoperability agreements with states, allowing instantaneous information-sharing among local jails, ICE, and the FBI.

ICE implemented the program in North Carolina and Texas in October 2008. Under President Obama, the program has been activated in 169 jurisdictions in 20 states. ICE plans to have a Secure Communities presence in each state by 2011, and in each of the 3,100 state and local jails nationwide by 2013, according to its Web site.

Comments

A controversial fingerprinting program might have quietly ended local protection of immigrants

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If true, the rabid right-wing trash (and that's what I think of them) on SF-Hate (also known as SFGate) will be celebrating. They have wanted this for some time. They scream, "End all sanctuary cities. Deport all illegals [sic]." Many (most?) people need someone to scapegoat. The rabids despise undocumented immigrants and anyone who is not like them. Most of that crowd on that backwater cesspool despise this City and any and all things about it. Many (most?) of them don't even live here. How do I know that? Well, they give themselves away. They don't spell Newsom's name correctly and he's in his second term (his name is often printed in the article...they are not big on attention to details), and they don't know what streets are in what districts of the City. Some of them think that when one is talking about the Richmond district that it's talking about Richmond over in the East Bay.

I'll never understand why people who don't live somewhere are so obsessed with what goes on there.

And it should be pointed out that this is coming from Obama/Napolitano. He's accelerating yet another policy from the Bush regime. It's more of that "hope" and "change we can believe in," manure. How is that "change we can believe in" working out for you?...those who you allowed yourself to be duped by this phony?

Posted by Sam on May. 28, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

I am a liberal, I live in San Francisco, I know where the Richmond District is, I do work "americans aren't willing to do," and I believe our immigration laws should be enforced. This doesn't stem from racism, I know illegal immigrants as both friends and co-workers, it is a problem of economics and scale. Trust me, there are racists and bigots on both sides of this issue.

Posted by Lefty on May. 29, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

Oh yeah, you sound like a liberal. As I've said many times, people call themselves anything these days whether it has any grounding in reality or not.

First off, your screen name is "Lefty." From my experience, that's the language used by the rabid regressive trolls. "Lefty" and "lib" are two ways I've come to identify the rabid regressives from being on comment forums for some time because that's how they try to put down progressives/liberals by using those two words ("lefty" and "lib") as pejoratives.

You sound just like the proponents of sit-lie, who (again as I've said before) seem to think that they MUST say that they are, "I'm a liberal (Democrat). I'm not a conservative" and then they go on to sound just like the rabid right-wing trash who want to oppress people. I have read that repeatedly (that "I am a liberal," shit) from those rabid right-wing trash who come on to message forums pretending to be progressives to deceive others who will fall for their BS. I spot it very easily.

Also, since when does "liberal" mean oppressing people and taking away people's rights?

You say you know "illegal immigrants" [sic] as both friends and co-workers. Well isn't that wonderful! Some friend you are to call them "illegal." (It reminds me of the "some of my best friends are gay" spew). Have you heard the word "undocumented" before? It's not so pejorative, after all people are just looking for work so they can survive and feed themselves and their families. "Undocumented" is a much more neutral word and it's a word that true liberals and progressives use. And the fact that you wrote this stuff: "there are racists and bigots on both sides of this issue," tells me exactly who you are and what you are about. You have made yourself quite transparent and I don't believe a word you said in your entire comment. [I have probably just responded to one of the paid trolls....oh well.]

But the real problem here, of course, is our outsourcing of jobs to China, India and now Vietnam. But "we" are not going to touch that issue are we? It's easier for some people to scapegoat people (undocumented immigrants, for example) than to talk about real liberal issues. Because the problem of outsourcing of millions of jobs is a true liberal issue. Liberal 101.

It's long past due that true liberals and progressives teach these faux liberals what liberalism really means and is about. Google it. (Have you heard of Google?)

Posted by Sam on May. 29, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

Ah, another 'feel good' leftist liberal with more heart than brains. Every time I interact with one of you I am reminded of why we are losing good jobs: because brainless twits like you are proliferating like weed (and I don't mean the good kind of 'weed' ).

While the government of Mexico is complaining about the Arizona law, they themselves are busy raping and abusing the illegal immigrants who come from the south of the country, and from other countries south of their border. The tales are harrowing indeed. You liberal idiots don't (or can't) see the hypocrisy of the Mexicans.

Secondly: the illegals who commit crimes do so mainly on other illegals. By protecting the criminals, you are HURTING THEIR COMMUNITIES. The only fear these illegals have is of being deported; for them, a US jail is just a training facility for stepping up to a higher crime bracket. If we don't deport them, they'll come out terrorize their communities even worse than before. And they know fully well that their victims will not report them.

So as you sit by the fireplace, sipping your chardonnay and surfing SFBG on your iPad, please remember that you are protecting the criminals who are preying on the illegals, and hurting the illegals who you claim to be protecting. But of course all of this doesn't matter, because you care more about your precious f****ing "sanctuary city" moniker than actual lives. F**K YOU!

Posted by Velazquez on May. 30, 2010 @ 8:01 am

hey, maybe i'm just left handed and people sometimes call me lefty. maybe you get stuck on monikers too much, and want to define what people should believe a little too much too.

here's an idea. let's pretend you are a teacher.

how about having "undocumented" teachers come in to take your job. well, they aren't taking your job, just doing it for half the pay. you are stilll welcome to be a teacher for a third of your pay.

they aren't credentialed? you say? well, is that illegal? they are just undocumented and trying to feed their families. don't say peep about it otherwise you are just a rabid racist with illogical concerns.

now if you get frustrated and quit, good luck finding a new school to teach in. the undocumented teachers will find ways to force you out so their friends can be hired, they've got lots of friends coming over every day.

and if you aren't a teacher, plug that model in for whatever the fuck you do for a living. i bet you don't pick fruit, for one, but i bet you appreciate those cheap prices on the backs of others.

the illegal immigration situation is just a saftey valve that has prevented the mexican revolution that needed to happen decades ago. instead it brings the rot of their system into our own. look at trends in the disparity of wealth lately? and you call yourself a liberal.

i also have a problem with the outsourcing of jobs, but i'm sure once we get the private prison system up and runnning at its full potential, many of those jobs will be done "in house" again.

sam, your view is over-emotional and myopic. if you knew any undocumented workers, you'd know that almost all of them would rather be back home, with their families. maybe you should ask mexico's elites why they can't.

or maybe you should open your ears to what is going on around you. many of the americans affected by this are woefully uneducated, and held in righteous distain by the likes of you, though they know something is wrong. i'm too busy half the time disabusing fears of chemtrails and scalar weapons to deal with the geopolitical roots to the problem. and then they follow the teabag, because at least that represents someone who will speak to them without epithets.

chew on that for awhile, if you really want a solution.

Posted by Lefty on Jun. 01, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

In my comment above, I wrote: "And it should be pointed out that this is coming from Obama/Napolitano."

Mr "Change we can believe in" is quite predictable. A few days ago, I read this headline: "US eyes plan for unilateral military strike on Pakistan." That sounds just like a headline one would have read during the Bush regime.

Today, I see this headline: "Obama Declares June LGBT Month."

That's what this guy does. He's predictable. He continues the Bush2 agenda and adds to it while throwing some pabulum at his "base." I remember after he announced expanding oil drilling he also announced some "window dressing" stuff to the progressives to pacify them. I forget at the moment what it was.

So, Mr Change intends to kill more people in Pakistan while declaring June LGBT month. He's been droning Pakistan repeatedly (escalating the droning and killing of innocent people) since he took office. He began the droning of Pakistan during his first week in office. I wonder how the LBGT celebrations will go in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere with more LGBT people dying because of this neocon Bush3 in the White House? He talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Latinos/Hispanos/Méxicans et al voted for him in good faith and what does he do? Fuk them over. He escalates the rounding up of people and increases this "Secure Communities" BS.

"Hope" and "Change we can believe in." = empty marketing slogans.

Posted by Sam on May. 30, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

The fact that SF is a sanctuary city for potential criminals and illegals is appalling enough. I applaud the implementation of this new security measure. Of course, I'd prefer that Level 1 offenses be dealt with first and foremost with the less serious ones being ignored in favor of the violent crimes. It's a step in the right direction for the safety of SF residents, regardless.

Posted by Infidel on May. 28, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

"Secure Communities" is bad law
May 3, 2010
By Diana Meija
Daily Record dot com

In Los Ángeles, a U.S. citizen was deported to México after the local police and immigration officials misidentified him as an undocumented immigrant. In New York, a longtime lawful permanent resident was torn from his family and held in immigration detention, even after the criminal charges against him were dismissed. And here in Morristown, women in a domestic violence shelter are too afraid to call the police because they fear the police are cooperating with immigration
authorities. All of these people share something in common — they are all victims of programs like "Secure Communities," which use local authorities to enforce federal immigration law, consuming local resources and devastating lives in the process.

Recently, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton wrote a column in the Daily Record claiming that Secure Communities is good because it streamlines the deportation of local residents. But these people are our family members, employers and employees, and longtime community members. Morristown already stood its ground against these types of failed
policies when it opposed the 287(g) program, which would have deputized local police officers to enforce immigration law. Secure Communities is just more of the same, and we will continue to hold the line.

Wind of the Spirit has collected more than 1,000 surveys in Morristown in order to understand how the Latino community perceives their safety. These surveys clearly illustrate that programs like Secure Communities actually make our communities
insecure. Preliminary findings show that Morristown's Latino residents are afraid to report crimes to the police because they fear that involvement with the authorities may put them or others at risk of deportation. Some of the most disturbing data collected so far come from a group of 50 women, 30 of whom were surveyed at a
meeting at a domestic violence shelter. Some 72 percent of this group said that they had not reported crimes in the past. All 50 of the women indicated that they would be more willing to report crimes or serve as witnesses if they were certain that Morristown authorities were not sharing information with federal immigration authorities.

Secure Communities, and programs like it, are a grave threat to Morristown's safety because they discourage victims from reporting crimes committed against them. Moreover, this fear of cooperation between local police and federal immigration
authorities threatens relations between the Morristown Police Department and the Latino community. Morton claims that Secure Communities "is not subject to racial profiling or prejudice." But this statement refers only to post-arrest racial profiling,
not pre-arrest racial profiling. The police still retain the discretion to decide who will be questioned and arrested in the first place. Knowing that all arrestees
will be processed through Secure Communities gives the police an incentive to arrest anyone they think might be deportable. Since arrestees can be deported even if criminal charges are dropped, police can use Secure Communities to
deport innocent people who would be simply sent home by the criminal justice system.

The New Jersey police have a long and troubled history of targeting people for questioning and arrest on the basis of their perceived race or ethnicity. A 2009 Seton Hall University Law School study strongly suggests NJ police officers are
improperly targeting Latino drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and crime victims for questioning about their immigration status for no apparent reason or after minor infractions. Secure Communities threatens to worsen these unconstitutional practices.

As one community member told us, "Secure Communities is a beautiful name for a horrible law."

Diana Mejia is director of Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center in Morristown.

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Suit targets ICE's Secure Communities
By Diana Washington Valdez \ El Paso Times
Posted: 04/28/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- The Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit Tuesday seeking records about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities program.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York City.

"Contrary to its name, this latest ICE program makes the public less safe," said Sunita Patel, a lawyer for the center in New York. "There is no doubt that the program has and will continue to deepen fear and mistrust of the police in our communities."

ICE Secure Communities partners in the region include the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and sheriff's offices in Hudspeth, Doña Ana and Otero counties. The Texas Department of Public Safety is also a partner, according to the ICE Web site.

The partnerships enable local law-enforcement agencies to access databases, which include information on immigration status of people they detain.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network in Los Ángeles and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York joined the lawsuit. In February, the organizations filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details about the program, but ICE has not released the records.

The organizations allege that the rapid expansion of Secure Communities is cause for alarm. They said hardly any information has been made available on error rates, costs, oversight, accountability, racial profiling and civil-rights complaints.

Secure Communities partnerships operate in 168 jurisdictions in 20 states, and more agreements are expected.

"This is a massive, invasive and untested federal immigration enforcement program that ICE has been deceptive and secretive about from the start," said Bridget Kessler, a fellow with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Immigration Justice Clinic. "Without more information, we cannot allow for the spread of this dangerous ICE program."

Contrary to what some immigration advocates allege, said Leticia Zamarripa, spokeswoman for ICE in El Paso, Secure Communities does not give local law enforcement officers the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

Instead, ICE officials said, new technology makes it possible to check a suspect's fingerprints against the Department of Homeland Security's biometric database. Biometrics can include fingerprints, handprints, DNA information and face recognition.

"This technology and the use of biometrics helps to more accurately and efficiently confirm a suspect's identity because, unlike a name or date of birth, biometrics are almost impossible to forge," according to the national ICE Web site.

Under the program, fingerprints are checked against the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and the Department of Homeland Security's Automated Biometric Identification System-US-VISIT Program. A search can be done within hours.

"Since its inception in October 2008, Secure Communities has identified more than 18,000 (undocumented immigrants) charged with or convicted of level 1 crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping -- 4,000 of whom have already been removed from the United States," Matt Chandler, Department of Homeland Security spokesman in Washington, said Tuesday.

"Congress, DHS and ICE recognize that identifying and removing criminal aliens from the United States is a priority and essential to our nation's security. ICE's Secure Communities strategy is leading the agency's efforts to improve and modernize the identification and removal of criminal aliens from the United States. This FOIA request is the subject of a lawsuit and we will release any information as appropriate through the litigation process."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, has defended Secure Communities. [Sam's comment: That's "change we can believe in," isn't it?!]

But critics alleged that the program was used to deport people who had only minor violations or petty traffic offenses. They also alleged the databases contain errors that resulted in mistaken identities for others. And, they also said the program enables police to run checks on people who have not been charged with anything.

Other critics point out that ICE had a series of immigration raids in Arizona before that state passed Senate Bill 1070 last week, and contend that Secure Communities is a stealth version of the Arizona state immigration law.

"The passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona should be proof enough of the dangerous and disastrous nature of ICE-police collaboration programs like the so-called Secure Communities program," said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Alvarado wants President Barack Obama to put an end to the ICE partnerships with local law enforcement.

Carlos Marentes, El Paso director of the Border Agricultural Workers Project, said Secure Communities and a similar program before it resulted in constitutional violations.

"We've had reports of deputies going into people's homes without search warrants, or turning people over to immigration authorities," Marentes said. "The Arizona (state) immigration law and the ICE program are misguided because they co-mingle unrelated issues, such as immigration, the violence across the border and national security issues."

Last December, El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles voiced support for immigration reform legislation at a Border Network for Human Rights rally in Downtown El Paso, while trying to ease concerns that his department would enforce immigration laws.

In the region, immigrants who are detained for processing are placed in ICE detention centers in El Paso or Otero County. On Tuesday, 840 people were held at the El Paso center run by the federal government, and 933 were at Otero center run by the Management & Training Corp., a private contractor.

Posted by Sam on May. 28, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

This is a big step in the right direction for the safety of residents. It is all so very ridiculous. We are tired of this silliness. Actually California has a law very similar Arizona, which mirrors US law. But US law should be the last word on the subject and rigorously enforced. Currently California law is just not being enforced by our immigrant governor.
If immigrants rights groups are so concerned about laws there is plenty of room for improvement in Mexico and Central America. However, if you are a legal registered voter, you have the ability to vote and petition government. If you are a citizen of a another country you should take up your rights with that government where you can argue about their laws. Case closed. Enjoy your trip home!

Posted by Geneff on Jun. 01, 2010 @ 9:50 pm