Revolt against Secure Communities program

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) announced a significant change to the city's law enforcement policies. Going forward, Philadelphia officials would no longer acquiesce to the federal government's requests that they hold certain undocumented immigrants for extra time solely for deportation purposes.

The change in policy is among the latest acts of rebellion against the euphemistically-titled Secure Communities. The program has played a central role in deportations over the past six years, and, in the process, has raised the ire of immigration reform advocates who argue that not only is it a blunt and costly instrument that forces police officers to play the role of ICE agents, it also tramples on civil liberties. Nutter isn't the only one to grow tired with the program.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) said the Baltimore City Detention Center would stop automatically honoring requests from ICE to hold people it would otherwise release. Meanwhile, more than a dozen counties in Oregon have announced after a court ruling on April 11 that they will no longer comply with ICE requests to hold individuals except under certain circumstances.

The revolt against Secure Communities a significant part of the government's interior enforcement mechanism is growing. And it's complicating the Obama administration's already delicate attempt to recalibrate its immigration policies. Amid damage control with immigration reform advocates for its deportation numbers, the White House increasingly faces pushback from law enforcement and local officials who are frustrated with their role in funneling people into the deportation pipeline.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently reviewing its deportation policies to make them, in the administration's words, more humane. Activists also view eliminating the program as the ultimate goal.

"The tide has turned against the program, and I think there is now consensus that the program needs to be shut down completely," said Chris Newman, who has fought against Secure Communities in his work with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

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January 21, 2018, 8:13 am
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