More bad news for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s troubled Secure Communities program, which continues to draw fire for deporting thousands of folks with no criminal records since it was started under former President George W. Bush in 2008. Last month, Illinois said it was quitting the program, and today Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a letter suspending S-Comm in NY state.
In a June 1 letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Cuomo’s counsel Mylan Denerstein noted that since the commencement of Cuomo’s administration in January, “we have received numerous complaints and questions about the purpose and implementation of the Secure Communities Program to which the prior administration committed New York State.”
“The heart of concern is that the program, conceived of as a method of targeting those who pose the greatest threat to our communities, is in fact having the opposite effect and compromising public safety by deterring witnesses to crime and others from working with law enforcement,” Denerstein continued.
“Compounding these concerns, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General recently announced that he will investigate whether the program is meeting its stated goals, whether it is being applied equitably and whether prior representations to states, including New York, regarding the program’s purpose, intent and impact are accurate,” Denerstein wrote.
“Accordingly, until the numerous questions and controversies regarding the program can be resolved, we have determined that New York is best served by relying on existing tools to ensure the safety of its residents, especially given our overriding concerns that the current mechanism is actually undermining law enforcement,” Denerstein concluded. “As a result, we are suspending New York’s participation in the program.”
Last year, S-Comm was activated in 35 New York communities, but with Cuomo’s announcement all counties will be barred from sharing fingerprint data.