Julianne Hing of ColorLines is reporting that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joined a growing chorus of governors rejecting the federal government's immigration-enforcement agenda by announcing that he would not enter his state into Secure Communities. The program, which is supposed to target immigrants who commit serious crimes for deportation, has been controversial because it has deported streams of people, both documented and undocumented, who were convicted of minor offenses or, in some cases, none at all.
An anonymous Department of Homeland source told the Boston Globe that Patrick could not reject the program because it is not optional. "We are reluctant to participate if the program is mandatory and unwilling to participate if it is voluntary," Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety and Security Mary Heffernan wrote in a letter to ICE earlier this week.
Immigrant-rights advocates say that DHS is setting itself up for a legal fight over what is quickly becoming its most controversial immigration-enforcement program.
“The tide is turning on S‐Comm,” said Pablo Alvarado, the executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is coordinating a national effort to dismantle Secure Communities. "A chorus of opposition to the program is growing louder as the migrant-rights movement demands a reversal of politics that criminalize immigrants."
Under Secure Communities, local authorities must share the fingerprints of anyone booked in a local or county jail with federal immigration authorities. People without immigration documents and documented immigrants with prior criminal convictions get marked for deportation proceedings, even if they're never charged with or convicted of a crime.
The controversial and rapidly expanding program has become the marquee immigration-enforcement program of the Obama administration's deportation agenda. It's currently operating in 42 states, and the administration hopes to expand it to the entire country by 2013.
If the program is flawed, why not perfect it before spreading it to other states? Erroneously deporting documented workers who have not committed crimes is something that needs to be addressed before the program goes forward.
Kudos to Patrick for at least going on record to say that he rejects the program, even if he has to enact it. Patrick originally supported the program but changed his mind after listening to constituents who don't agree with how the program is being executed. Perhaps DHS and President Obama should take a cue from the governor?
Read more at ColorLines.