For Immediate Release
New Letters Indicate Napolitano’s “Confusion,” a Cover-Up
Contractor Blamed for Misinformation says Responsibility Rests at High Levels of the Immigration Enforcement Agency (ICE), Groups Call for Moratorium.
NEW YORK - Detailed letters released today from a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contractor to Representative Zoe Lofgren give rise to grave questions of Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) transparency and integrity in the administration of the controversial ICE Secure Communities (S-Comm) program.
Following the release of internal emails as a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, the federal government has been under pressure to answer questions about the program’s use and scope. The new letters further reveal DHS' attempts to cover up mismanagement and lies, including questioning the redactions of documents about the opting-out issue that a federal judge ordered federal agencies to release in January.
Attached to Rep. Lofgren’s letter to the DHS Office of Inspector General urging an immediate investigation into S-Comm are two letters from a former ICE contractor, Dan Cadman, who claims responsibility for a majority of S-Comm activations. He wrote, “I believe key elements in the ICE correspondence [to you] are inaccurate and misleading… ICE painted itself into a corner and needed someone to blame.” He enclosed a letter he wrote to ICE Secure Communities Acting Assistant Director, Marc Rapp, following his “abrupt” termination: "I will admit to being puzzled as to which documents the FOIA office elected to provide versus those they withheld." He notes in some instances the FOIA office redacted his name while in others they did not and credits the misrepresentation of the program as the key factor to New York State’s former Governor Patterson’s agreement to participate, observing, "this would be downright amusing, if the subject matter were not so serious."
Bridget Kessler, attorney at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, observed, "ICE cannot choose to release documents and redact names selectively, particularly not to hide government misconduct or dishonesty. FOIA gives the public a right to access information about what their government officials are doing and does not allow for agencies to withhold documents simply because they might be embarrassing."
"The worst part of ICE's lack of transparency and accountability in the development and deployment of S-Comm is that every day S-Comm tears families apart and spreads fear in immigrant communities across the nation. ICE's conduct belies a fundamental lack of respect for democracy and the people that are impacted by its harsh policies," said Sunita Patel, attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights
Sarahí Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said, “Secure Communities has become an ever larger symbol of President Obama’s broken promises on immigration. We second the call by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. We need a moratorium on this program immediately. Each day ICE exposes itself as a rogue agency that needs to be reigned in. Those responsible for this attempt at a cover-up have no place in the offices of a democracy.”
New York FOIA documents are, for the first time, posted here:
Correspondence between Lofgren, Morton, Inspector General, and Cadman (Cadman letters at end of Document): http://ndlon.org/pdf/2011-
A Petition for a Moratorium on S-Comm Launched Today at: http://bit.ly/scommice
NDLON v. ICE litigates President Obama’s flagship “Secure Communities” biometrics program, currently operating in over 1,200 jurisdictions in 42 states as of May 2011. Rights groups say the program makes state and local policing central to the enforcement of federal immigration law. The program automatically runs fingerprints through immigration databases for all people arrested and targets them for detention and deportation even if their criminal charges are minor, eventually dismissed or the result of an unlawful arrest. The documents released as a result of the litigation have shown widespread internal agency confusion about the program’s voluntary nature as well as the government’s heavy-handed implementation strategy. Mayer Brown serves as co-counsel in the case.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org
The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org
The Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was founded in 2008 to provide quality pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants facing deportation. Under the supervision of experienced practitioners, law students in the Clinic represent individuals facing deportation and community-based organizations in public advocacy, media and litigation projects. Visit www.cardozo.yu.edu/immigrationjustice