El Diario: NY Is More Secure for Immigrants

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An editorial in New York's Spanish-language newspaper El Diario/La Prensa lauds Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to suspend the state's participation in the Secure Communities program. New York is the second state to opt out of the program, which requires police to share fingerprint data of all arrestees with federal immigration authorities. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced in early May that Illinois would not participate in the prorgram. 

NEW YORK -- Governor Cuomo's decision to suspend New York’s participation in the so-called Secure Communities program not only brings relief to vulnerable immigrant families but also helps build their confidence in government and the police.

Since former Governor David Paterson signed onto Secure Communities, community organizations, elected officials and this page have called for New York to withdraw from this problem-riddled program.

The controversial program, commonly known as S-Comm, put immigrant New Yorkers with minor or no offenses on the road to deportation.

Trust and respect between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve is critical for public safety. But by forcing local governments to submit information of anyone arrested into a federal database—the reliability and accuracy of which has been repeatedly questioned—Secure Communities achieves the exact opposite of what its name indicates: it alienates civilians from the police and makes our communities unsafe.

The suspension of S-Comm, while still temporary, sends a strong message to the rest of the country: an indiscriminate policy of deportation under the Obama administration only serves to separate families and deter immigrants from coming forward as crime witnesses and victims.

The fight against Secure Communities does not end here. The federal government, through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), will surely work to persuade the state to reactivate the program. More troublesome, the government wants to make the program mandatory in 2013. Cuomo should permanently opt out of the program and stand up to federal policies that do not work for the Empire State.

Mayor Bloomberg should take a note from this move by eliminating yet another deportation track program that ICE operates at Rikers Island. ICE can basically sweep up individuals who are in the middle of legalizing their status and who have been wrongfully arrested or later found not guilty of any crime.

With the suspension of S-Comm, Cuomo demonstrated the fair and common sense leadership that New Yorkers should expect from Albany. It’s the kind of leadership that should resonate from upstate to downstate.