La Opinión Asks Jerry Brown to Withdraw from Secure Communities

La Opinión Asks Jerry Brown to Withdraw from Secure Communities

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Editor's Note: The governors of Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have suspended their states' participation in the federal Secure Communities program, which requires police to share fingerprint data of all arrestees with immigration authorities. Now editors of the Los Angeles Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión are asking the question, Is California next?

Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have withdrawn from the Secure Communities program based on the assessment that it is ill-conceived and misguided, it has damaged relations between police immigrant communities and it has not achieved the goals it is was designed to achieve.

California should do the same as these other states. What are you waiting for, Gov. Brown?

Serious questions about the program began to emerge at the same time that the acting Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, Charles K. Edward, began an official investigation into the costs and accuracy of the program that is supposed to protect the public by identifying and deporting dangerous undocumented criminals.

But in practice, this is a public safety strategy that, in a city like Los Angeles, for example, delivers into the hands of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents everyone from murderers to mothers who sell food on the street without a license. The data show that the vast majority of those deported are in fact not the most dangerous criminals.

This misuse does not seem to bother Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, whose main interest seems to be reducing the prison population, even though the program wasn’t designed for that purpose. In fact, this is one of his arguments in support of the program.

Baca’s enthusiasm for Secure Communities is not shared by many of his colleagues in law enforcement in California, Illinois, New York, and other states that have significant immigrant populations.

This is all the more reason why Baca’s position is distressing and why Gov. Jerry Brown’s silence on the issue and his reticence to withdraw California from the Secure Communities program is unacceptable. It is true that as Attorney General of the state, Brown gave a green light to the program. But today there are sufficient reasons to suspend operations, at least until many of the program’s problems are cleared up.

We believe that given California’s history, economy, demographics, and culture, the state should make a strong and clear statement by withdrawing from Secure Communities.