When the deportation machine, also known as Secure Communities, was first introduced, the immigration enforcement branch told states and local officials that it was optional to use. So, New York , along with other states, did the right thing and opted out of integrating such program. Apparently, the feds were lying; the program is not optional at all. New York is now being forced to implement Secure Communities in its jails and local counties despite opposition from the Governor himself.
What exactly is Secure Communities and who would be impacted? Many have said that the Secure Communities program does not impact them because they are citizens, only those who commit crimes should worry. However, this is not the reality of things. While police officers could be out actually solving crimes and keeping our communities safe, they must have the extra work of Secure Communities thrown on their desk. Through this program, fingerprints from local jails and counties are taken to Homeland Security; they are then used to identify the person’s immigration status in this country and depending on the results they are sent to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). What if you create a facebook for your own personal use and find out you are being spied on through it? Same thing here. You are fingerprinted with the police and it is sent over to ICE. Everyone is at risk here.
Take for example Perla Rodriguez, a naturalized citizen, who was kept in jail for 3 days because of Secure Communities even though her sister showed the jail officials her United States passport twice. Did you know that approximately 3,600 of United States citizens have been arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement through the Secure Communities program?
Secure Communities promotes racial profiling. How is the police to know who is undocumented and who isn’t? How do police know who to take in for fingerprinting and who gets to stay out? There’s no specific look or smell to an undocumented person. No one has “illegal alien” stamped on their forehead, the person must be searched, questioned and taken into custody. Even though undocumented Latinos are only 77% of the population, Latinos take up 93% of those arrested through Secure Communities.
As it is now, many undocumented immigrants already fear the police and think twice before reporting a crime or stating they are witnesses to a crime. I know this is true from personal experience, my family feared the police, setting foot in a public school and picking family and friends up at the airport. Secure Communities raises even more fear in the people. Filing a restraining order can lead to a person’s deportation through Secure Communities like Victoria and her mother Carina, the two were almost deported a few weeks ago. This deportation machine is hurting our relationship with law enforcement and separating families. More than one-third of individuals arrested through Secure Communities report that they have a United States citizen spouse or child.
All we can do right now is wait for the dust to settle and see what our next steps are. At least for me, I refuse to live in fear and will continue to educate myself and community on our rights as undocumented immigrants living here, with or without Secure Communities.
Readers, stay out of trouble, especially for those driving without a license! Make sure to stay in the speed limit and be aware of all signs and regulations. Regardless, we can still be profiled and many of my friends try not to drive at night especially really late. Stay safe and if you find yourself in deportation proceedings, let us know! We can get you out!