Is Secure Communities opt-out still an option?

SFILEN (San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network) keeps up the fight

Immigrant rights attorney Francisco Ugarte, who works for SFILEN,  just talked to me about why it’s critical that folks raise their concerns about immigrant rights with their elected officials in the face of Secure Communities, a program ICE is planning to bring to San Francisco June 1, and to all U.S. jails by 2013, without the openness and transparency that we have come to expect under the Obama administration.

“There’s a rise in xenophobia and the economy is going down, so this is the time when people should be speaking up for immigrants,” Ugarte said. “ICE is among the least transparent governmental agency in the U.S. It’s hard enough for lawyers to get information about their clients, let alone a member of the public who is trying to get information about an ICE program like Secure Communities.”

Ugarte notes that ICE’s own MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with individual states prohibits them from providing information about Secure Communities to the media, without first getting the consent of ICE.

“ICE needs to be asked, whose confidentiality are you protecting, your own, or that of the members of the public that are being detained under this program?” Ugarte said.

He believes ICE is being so secretive because it doesn’t want to tell the stories of deportations and trauma that have created in the local community.

I asked Ugarte if he’d support the idea of a national I.D. card, based on the premise that if ICE is going to fingerprint and I.D. everyone anyways, then why not parlay this into giving folks who aren't found guilty of a felony some kind of I.D. Card as a first step towards amnesty? (Provided folks aren’t found guilty of a felon, in which case ICE would deport them.)

“I’m not sure if we can support a national I.D. card,” Ugarte said. ‘The point is that ICE is intent on removing folks who they deem ‘dangerous,’ but they are not offering any relief for the millions of people who work hard and pay taxes yet remain second-class citizens. We need some kind of commensurate relief.”

Ugarte worries that a national I.D. card program would allow the federal government to become an even bigger Big Brother.
“But it’s crystal clear that there has to be some relief provided for the millions who have worked hard and contributed to their communities,” Ugarte said.

He noted that ICE deported 400,000 folks last year alone.
‘That’s more folks than in any of the Bush administration’s years,” he said. “This is affecting us directly. We did not elect Obama to destroy our community.”

Ugarte said that he doesn't believe that Obama is controlling ICE, but that he should start doing so now.
“Obama needs to assert more control. He has the power through executive order to stop the deportation of people who have U.S. citizens in their families. He has the power to reform the system to prevent the destruction of people who live here. Right now, we’re seeing enforcement only, and it’s creating a human rights crisis.”

And Ugarte has not given up on the notion that San Francisco can opt out of Secure Communities, no matter what AG (and gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown says.

“Right now, it appears that the Department of Justice is resisting the opt-out idea from San Francisco, but the Attorney General did not cite any legal authority in his letter," Ugarte observed. "All he said was based on policy reasons, in contrast to San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey’s concerns, which were based on the impact of the program on public safety.”

Summing up Jerry Brown’s missive as a “political letter,” Ugarte says folks need to double their efforts to ensure that folks in Sacramento understand the implications of local police-ICE collaborations and their similarities to Arizona’s immigration law.

“We need to ensure that our voices are heard. Three people in D. C. and three people in Sacramento should not be dictating policy for millions.”


If you really believe that the Secure Communities program is equivalent to SB1070, then the conclusion has to follow that Obama is no different than the xenophobic Arizonan legislators. I'm sorry but the excuse that somehow Obama doesn't know what the ICE has been doing just isn't credible. As President he is charged with enforcing all federal laws, including those he might personally disagree with. If Obama were simply to refuse to enforce the law, then there would be no chance that any immigration reform would pass. Keeping gang members like Edwin Ramos in the U.S. Can have a negative impact on public safety as well.

Posted by Colin V. Gallagher on May. 26, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

The first paragraph of this article ends with, "without the openness and transparency that we have come to expect under the Obama administration."

WHAT? Openness and transparency from Obama? That's not true at all.
(Google this: Another broken promise: Obama more secretive than Bush
By SHARON THEIMER (the article is on and some other sites.)

At this point, I don't know why anyone would think that Bush3 (Obama) is not controlling ICE. Is it because one does not want to believe that Mr "Hope" and "Change we can believe in" would do the things that he's doing? Well he is. It's time to admit that and stop trying to make excuses for him. Why do some people feel the need to make excuses for millionaire politicians? Obama has continued the Bush/Cheney agenda and even added to it. Who is controlling ICE if it's not Obama?

Some people are finally realizing who this guy (Obama) is. He is *not* what most of his voters voted for. He sucks, but people such as myself and other Nader and McKinney voters had suspected that he would suck and continue the status quo, which he's done. Why did we suspect that? Because we looked at his voting record the short time he was in the senate and he helped the Bush regime as a senator. We also listened to what he said outside of his feel-good pabulum speeches intended to dupe those who would allow themselves to be duped by him. Most people allowed themselves to fall for his empty marketing slogans of "hope" and "change we can believe in" BS...and that's all it was: It was BS. His first week in office he started droning Pakistan and his believers tried their best to lay it on Bush2 yet Bush3 (Obama) said during the campaign that he wanted to attack Pakistan, but his believers didn't want to hear that. (Denial).

Personally, I'm not the least bit surprised at his despicable pro-war, pro-corporate, anti-US Constitution record so far. He took an oath to the US Constitution and yet he continues to shred that document (the law of the land), particularly with the USA "Patriot" Act, which was just extended for another year. He's who and what I and others thought he would be, unfortunately.

As for immigration reform in the POSITIVE direction, yeah right. He doesn't know what ICE is doing? I don't believe that at all. I think he knows full well what ICE is doing because it's part of his regressive agenda....which is continuing the Cheney/Bush agenda.

Add Jerry Brown's name to the list of people who suck.

Posted by Sam on May. 27, 2010 @ 1:47 am

Obama knows exactly what ICE is doing alright. It's a part of the Department of Homeland Security. We, the American citizen elected him to represent us, not illegal immigrants, who have no voice in our government. So he is enforcing US law. What's the problem?
This is a big step in the right direction for the safety of all citizens, legal residents and immigrant. It is so very ridiculous. We are tired of this silliness. Actually California has a law very similar to Arizona's, 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.
I believe the president in Mexico is Felipe Calderón. If immigrants rights groups are so concerned about laws there is plenty of room for improvement in Mexico and Central America. They are beautiful places to vacation.
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 @ 10:06 pm

A typical smug response from yet another hater.

Clearly, the words on the Statue of Liberty mean nothing to you.

You can only speak for yourself and not this "we" that you insist on using. You don't speak for me whatsoever. And THIS "we" didn't elect Obama. I voted for Nader/Gonzalez because I examined Obama's voting record and wanted nothing to do with him, as a Bush-enabler. And Obama doesn't represent We The People. He represents the corporations who run the nation and who own the congress and who essentially write the legislation for the congress (example: the corporate health "care" giveaway/welfare program for the rich).

You say "I believe the president in Mexico [sic] is Felipe Calderón." You don't know? He is, but you could have at least Googled it to confirm it. Also, there's an accent over the é in México if one strives for accuracy when writing Español.

The haters are so transparent and predictable. They consistently use the hateful, derogatory language, "illegal immigrants" [sic]. And they try to make it sound so nasty and full of the hate which is in them. The haters refuse to use the more neutral and non-pejorative language "undocumented immigrants."

Yes, the cancer of hate is rather widespread. Most people seem to need someone to scapegoat, and they go for the "little person" just trying to survive and feed themselves and their families. The same thing any of us would do----whether one would admit it or not----if in their same situation. Or would you just sit in the place you're in and wait to die? As is typical, you said ZERO about the EMPLOYERS who hire the undocumented immigrants or about the OUTSOURCING of millions of jobs which is the real source of our jobs problems here in this nation of immigrants. For example, I read this last night regarding calls being sent out of the country: "outsourcing of U.S. call centers included India, Indonesia, Ireland, the Philippines and South Africa, places where workers generally receive lower wages and work longer hours than their U.S. counterparts."

And if YOU are not a direct descendant of the Native Americans, YOU are "illegal" [sic] too...even if you were born here.

Posted by Sam on Jun. 02, 2010 @ 12:40 am

For some reason, the accent over the "a" of González (of Nader/González) in my previous comment did not publish. I'll try it again.

Posted by Sam on Jun. 02, 2010 @ 12:45 am