LatinaLista -- New York's Governor Cuomo did something yesterday that only one other governor in the nation has done -- told the federal government his state would not participate in the program known as Secure Communities.
The title of the program alone would make the most rational person think Cuomo may have been irrational to reject it.
A May rally in Manhattan called for an end to the Secure Communities drive.
(Photo: New York Times)
Yet, the truth is Secure Communities had less to do with making communities safe as it did injecting fear and mistrust into undocumented immigrant communities and tearing down relationships between local police and these same communities.
The official objective of Secure Communities, as published on the Department of Homeland Security website, is noble and desirable -- work with local authorities to identify undocumented immigrants taken into custody to determine if they have a criminal history.
...the fingerprints of everyone arrested and booked are not only checked against FBI criminal history records, but they are also checked against DHS immigration records. If fingerprints match DHS records, ICE determines if immigration enforcement action is required, considering the immigration status of the alien, the severity of the crime and the alien's criminal history.
In other words, ICE determines whether they should deport the person. On the surface, this is a very desirable program. A rapist/murderer/thief in Mexico is a rapist/murderer/thief in the U.S. Who doesn't want people like that kicked out of the country or left behind bars? Unfortunately, Secure Communities has ended up not being enforced the way it was pitched.
While going after these "criminal aliens," the authorities involved in the program have also gone after undocumented immigrants with no criminal history but guilty for only being in the country without the proper paperwork.
Sometimes, the immigrants were caught by the police like driving without a license. Other times, they, and this time, women, were caught when they couldn't take the physical abuse from their partners anymore and called police for help. Instead of their abusers being carted off to jail, the victims found themselves taken into custody and handed over to ICE for deportation.
Where was their crime beyond being in the country illegally?
Clearly, Secure Communities is not being implemented as promised and that brings serious issues of mistrust of authority into these communities, from adults down to the kids.
Gov. Cuomo was right to reject Secure Communities until the Obama administration reviews how Secure Communities has been implemented, discipline those found who abused the program and work at building back trust not only between the federal government and state authorities but with immigrant communities.