PRESS RELEASE: Centro Presente Condemns ICE’s Unilateral Imposition of ‘Secure Communities’ Program in Massachusetts
Flawed program’s impact on immigrant families and community policing efforts will be hugely damaging
Patricia Montes, Centro Presente (617) 959 3108
Boston, MA- In response to the announcement that the Department of Homeland Security would begin storing all arrest data from all local Massachusetts law enforcement agencies under the Secure Communities program (S-Comm) on May 15, Centro Presente released a statement publicly condemning the action.
Centro Presente has been leading a campaign called “Just Communities” against the implementation of S-Comm in Massachusetts for the past two years. Its efforts in collaboration with a diverse coalition of faith community, immigrant and civil liberties advocacy groups were successful in influencing Governor Patrick’s reversal of his decision to sign the Commonwealth onto this program last June.
“We are very saddened and angered that ICE will overrule the decision making authority of the Commonwealth and begin to draw data from every local police department in the State on interactions that all people have with local law enforcement authorities,” stated Patricia Montes, Executive Director of Centro Presente. “Obviously, for the immigrant community the effect is immediate, drastic and in human terms devastating. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are law abiding contributors to this society, but a few isolated, tragic cases have been used to portray all immigrants as criminals and deserving of such harsh and inhuman treatment. Families are being torn apart by S-Comm everywhere that it is being implemented. The majority of people deported by this program do NOT have criminal records. They are not rapists, murderers and thieves as ICE depicts them. They are guilty of a civil infraction, nothing more.”
“The secondary impact of this program in the immigrant community is to destroy any trust that it has with local law enforcement. Whether they think of themselves as such or not, the local police will now be seen as ICE agents in the eyes of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, and they will be less likely to cooperate in community policing efforts.”
“But no one should believe that this program stops with immigrants. All arrest data will be stored in the Department of Homeland Security’s database. This is more than an immigrant issue, it’s an issue of yet another encroachment on the civil liberties of everyone by the federal government. Ironically, the same people who are paranoid about immigrants posing a threat have handed the government sweeping powers over the citizenry that they themselves oppose.”
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Centro Presente is a state-wide, membership-based Latino immigrant organization that advocates for immigrant rights and for economic and social justice through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services.