Minor Changes to “Secure Communities” Do Not Address Inherent Problems with the Program

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Contact: Jorge L. Barón, Executive Director, jorge@nwirp.org, 206-957-8609


SEATTLE, WA – Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) again voiced its strong opposition to the so-called “Secure Communities” program of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), despite the changes announced by ICE last week. NWIRP continues to call on state and county officials in Washington State to oppose this program, which will inject local law enforcement officials into immigration enforcement.

“The steps announced on Friday fall far short of addressing the inherent flaws of the so-called ‘Secure Communities’ program,” said Jorge L. Barón, NWIRP’s executive director. “We believe the Obama Administration should suspend the program and focus its energies instead on pursuing a fair and comprehensive reform of our immigration system. While we appreciate that Friday’s announcement reflects an acknowledgment by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security that there are problems with ‘Secure Communities’, the measures that are proposed will do little to remedy the concerns that law enforcement, elected officials and advocates throughout the country have raised regarding the program.”

“We believe that ‘Secure Communities’ will encourage racial profiling practices and further erode immigrant communities’ trust in local law enforcement agencies. As a consequence, victims, witnesses and other immigrant community members will be reticent to approach local law enforcement.”

In recent weeks, the states of Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have either pulled out of or refused participation in the program. Many cities across the country have rejected the forced entanglement of local law enforcement in immigration matters. As a result, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Progressive Caucus have both called for suspension of the program pending a Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General investigation slated to begin next month.

Despite the mounting criticism, several counties in Washington State have already announced their intention to participate in the controversial federal program, starting with Yakima County, which is reportedly set to begin participation this week. NWIRP continues to call on counties to reject this deeply flawed program and to closely consider the significant costs associated with participation in “Secure Communities,” including the corrosive effect it will have on relationships between law enforcement and and immigrant communities.

For a PDF of the press release click here.