NYC Hears Public on Immigration: Detention Or Deportation Policies on the Secure Communities Program and ICE Partnerships with Local Enforcement and Corrections
January 25, 2013 – Manhattan, NY The Commission on Immigration of the New York City Council chaired by Councilman Daniel Dromm held a hearing on an Introductory Bills 982 and 989 which seek to address what some call “commonsense immigration reform “and the current integrated federal and local law enforcement efforts in the area of “immigration retainers”. As an example, some 34,000 individuals were detained and deported between October 2005 and December 2010 by Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), NYC Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections which enforce a 2008 program called Secure Communities. This program identifies, processes and deports individuals in New York that they deem to be “criminal aliens”.
The Bills 982 and 989 and their advocates maintain that Secure Communities or “S-Comm” the CAP and ICE detention and deportation program has largely resulted in the removal of individuals who have no criminal backgrounds and who further pose no threats to national security and/or the immediate general public. Those that testified at the hearing today included The Bronx Defenders, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM) and Service Employees International Union 32bJ and other labor organizations with large immigrant members as well as civil liberties advocates like the American Immigration Lawyers Association – New York Chapter, Legal AID Society, and Legal Services Corporation to name a few.
The general consensus of the people who testified was that the current activities of CAP and ICE was not part of the movement for commonsense reform to the problem of illegal immigrants already here. The Secure Communities detentions and deportations have threatened the family economic and emotional stability of “mixed family” who are in the US both legally and illegally. Advocates say that the ICE program which works directly with enforcement and the Department of Corrections needs to better screen inmates upon arrest to ascertain whether the individuals held in custody are in fact dangerous criminals. The general consensus was that many detainees could be eligible for an opportunity to remain in the country legally with the families that they resided with prior arrest if the new laws provide leniency for being in the US already. This will be a critical set of Bills and efforts to watch as the Congress and the President weigh in on “Immigration Reform” in the next week and into the rest of 2013.
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