by Luisa Garcia
October 13, 2010
More than 80 neighborhood residents and activists expressed their concerns at a community meeting organized by several Queens-based organizations about the new Secure Communities program (S-Comm) directed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The meeting at P.S. 19 in Corona on Wednesday, October 6 focused on S-Comm. Under S-Comm, local law enforcement agencies are required to forward the fingerprints of every arrested person to the Department of Homeland Security’s biometric identification system. Police then transfer those suspected of being deportable into the detention and deportation system.
“This program is affecting us because it violations our civil and human rights as well as causing families to became separated,” said Cesar Palomeque, a Sunnyside resident who attended the meeting. “We have to fight so that this program does not get signed!”
Secure Communities was approved on May 18, 2010, when the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ICE without any public input. If it goes into effect, community activists fear this program would encourage racial and ethnic profiling as police target perceived immigrants for arrest, knowing they will end up in ICE’s custody or deported.
“We cannot let this program take place in our city, for it will lead to detentions and deportations that will destabilize our communities,” City Councilmember Daniel Dromm said.
The meeting aimed to raise awareness about the pending implementation of Secure Communities since counties have the option to opt-out of the program. The meeting also gave community members and local elected officials the opportunity to raise concerns about the negative affect it could have on the communities.
“We hope that through the forum both community members and elected officials will be committed to a campaign to op-out of the Secure Communities program,” said Andres Garcia, Worker’s Rights Organizer and Advocate at New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE).
Dromm and State Senator Jose Peralta were present at the event, along with representatives of the offices of Councilmembers Jumaane D. Williams and Julissa Ferreras.
“Julissa Ferreras is a strong advocate of immigrants and their rights,” said Seth Barron, legislative director for Ferreras. “This is a very important event because representatives of the many immigrant communities are coming together to voice their opposition and hopefully we will see New York opt-out of it.”