This week Make the Road NY renewed its push to remove ICE agents from the Riker’s Island Jail where agents check inmate’s immigration status through the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), calling on Mayor Bloomberg to end it “with the stroke of a pen.”
In a rally on Tuesday at City Hall, many speakers also raised the specter of a new collaboration between ICE and local police called Secure Communities.
Too many immigrants “are silently disappearing after entering city jails,” Alison Bowen reported in her Latin American News Dispatch story on the 1,000-person strong rally.
Governor Patterson signed a state agreement to enter into Secure Communities last May, which he’s since been ask to rescind. No counties in New York have publicly started using the program.
Monika Fabian and Catalina Jaramillo at Feet in Two Worlds report that state officials with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services want to keep Secure Communities, but DCJS PIO John Caher says it will essentially spread on an opt-in basis:
“While we are very cognizant of the civil rights of immigrants, we are equally cognizant of the fact that this State [sic] is a premier target for terrorism,” said Caher. “[Acting DCJS Commissioner Sean Byrne] did not think it would be responsible to deny localities the option of participating in this initiative if they were inclined to do so.”
One of the major concerns about Secure Communities is that it does not meet ICE’s enforcement priorities of deporting immigrants convicted of serious crimes. As Sarah Reynolds reported for WNYC:
“This is not about convicted felons,” said Andrew Friedman, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “In most instances it’s about innocent New Yorkers or New Yorkers who are guilty of very minor things. This is not about public safety.”
In a recent Queen Courier report, Elizabeth Daley quotes ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls acknowledging that low-level offenders could also moved into ICE custody from local jails:
“ICE has the discretion to take action against any individual who is subject to removal, obviously we prioritize our removals to those who pose the greatest risk to public safety or national security,” Walls said.
Earlier this month, Deportation Nation’s Renée Feltz spoke to the “War on Immigrants Report” about Secure Communities in New York and 33 states all-togther, along with Angela Fernandez, Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
Fernandez shared a story with the NY Daily News about a woman who put out a fire in her apartment by herself because she feared being deported if she called for help.
This article was originally published on Deportation Nation on Oct. 22.