“Governor Cuomo’s suspension of secure communities is an important recognition that this program has done far more harm to hard working families than it has done to keep those families safe. We commend Governor Cuomo for this important action and we encourage other states to follow suit,” declared Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens”
National and Local Latino Leaders Commend NYS Governor Cuomo for Suspending Secure Communities Program
New York, NY – Thursday, June 2, 2011 – Latino leaders and institutions from across the nation commended Governor Andrew Cuomo for suspending the federal Secure Communities (S-Comm) deportation program in New York State. The program was fatally flawed from its onset and since its implementation a year ago has worked to undermine community safety, immigrant families, civil rights, due process and divert much-needed financial resources from the state budget.
“We applaud Governor Cuomo for taking the necessary step to stop the harm created by this deeply flawed program” stated Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation. “This action will help restore public trust, strengthen public safety and allow honest and hardworking immigrants to continue to contribute to their families and communities.”
“It makes sense that New York is heading in the opposite direction of Arizona. Unlike Arizona, most of New York’s elected officials are proud of their state’s immigrant heritage, and there is zero tolerance among most residents for programs that imperil the civil rights of communities of color,” stated Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
“On behalf of Latino and Caribbean immigrant communities, I salute the decision made by Gov. Cuomo on putting an end to S-Comm in New York. Police and community relations, based on trust of our policy force, are well served by this decision,” affirmed Oscar Chacon, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Latin American and Caribbean Communities.
“Our concern at LatinoJustice is that the discretion given to law enforcement to target immigrants who commit serious crimes will result in an abuse of discretion against ALL undocumented persons, regardless of criminality,” Cartagena said. “The Secure Communities program, like the 287g program and like the current practices at Riker’s Island, all point to the same criminalization and profiling of our nation’s Latino immigrants, stated Juan Cartagena, President of Latino Justice PRLDEF.”
While the federal government presented “Secure Communities” as a public safety measure to identify and deport dangerous criminals, ICE data for New York State show that under S-Comm, 80% of immigrants detained did not have any criminal convictions. S-Comm was activated in 27 of New York’s 62 counties. Many community leaders in those counties reacted with joy and a great sense of relief at yesterday’s announcement by Governor Cuomo.
“Our community in Buffalo applauds the actions of Governor Cuomo. S-Comm runs contrary to the values of our city and state with regards to liberty, due process and justice, stated Lourdes Iglesias, Executive Director of Hispanics United of Buffalo.”
“S-Comm created a strong disincentive for immigrants in our area to report crimes or cooperate with local law enforcement. It was in fact destroying the trust between police and immigrant communities and jeopardizing the safety of all of our residents,” affirmed Graciela Heymann, Executive Director of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition.
“In Long Island, Secure Communities was implemented without any consultation or opportunity for community input. This flawed program was deepening the climate of fear for immigrants in Long Island. With this decision, Governor Cuomo has shown his commitment to keep our communities truly safe and secure,” said Omar Angel Pérez, Executive Director of the Workplace Project.
The growing fear amongst immigrants in New York State that interaction with local police might lead to deportation spread even to locations like New York City where S-Comm had not been activated.
“There is no question that S-Comm contributed to a state of fear in our communities, regardless of whether you were in Brooklyn, Queens or Syracuse. Ending S-Comm was not only morally correct, it was the only community-responsible course of action for our state. We thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing this and moving quickly to end our participation in this failed federal project, stated Luis Garden Acosta, President of El Puente.
“We are greatly encouraged that Governor Cuomo has recognized that Secure Communities erodes trust with the police, encourages racial profiling and funnels immigrants into an unjust deportation system,” said Mizue Aizeki, Community Organizer for the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.