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Advocates Decry DHS S-Comm Advisory Committee As “Sham”

More Details Emerge Day After Launch

WASHINGTON - Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security launched its advisory committee as part of the response to the growing controversy and resistance from states and law enforcement towards Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Secure Communities” program.

When ICE announced cosmetic modifications earlier this month it promoted the advisory committee made up of law enforcement, ICE agents, and advocates as a body purported to issue recommendations in 45 days on how to “mitigate impacts on community policing,” “how to best focus on individuals who pose a true public safety and security threat,” as well as how to implement a post-conviction policy for traffic offenses.

Today advocates learned that in fact the commission is limited to recommendations about minor traffic offenses—a significant departure from ICE’s announcement. The commission also appears to be tangled in levels of bureaucracy —the advisory committee reports to another DHS committee.

Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said: "The advisory commission launched by DHS is a sham like the rest of the ‘Secure Communities’ program. The more we learn about the commission the more we smell a rat. A committee tasked on whether they should separate and detain families pre or post conviction for broken tail lights is another embarrassment for the Obama Administration and its disregard for human rights in this country."

“Forty-five days and a few short meetings is not enough time to truly examine a vast program like S-Comm,“ said Bridget Kessler of Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, “ICE is once again spouting superficial talking points and band-aid solutions instead of confronting S-Comm’s fundamental flaws.”

ICE recently posted a document titled “Secure Communities: Get the Facts” on its website. Advocates, questioning ICE’s “facts,” issued this response: http://tinyurl.com/4x7tnbn.

“The Office of Inspector General of DHS is set to investigate the problems with Secure Communities, including whether public officials were misled by the agency,” said Sunita Patel, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The advisory committee's narrow scope ignores the concerns of public officials and civil rights groups. Advocates and community members have called for an end to Secure Communities and the administration should listen.”

Last year ICE issued a document titled “Setting the Record Straight” in response to the release of data about S-Comm. The document, which outlined a procedure to opt-out of the program, was later taken down from the ICE website.

“ICE's ‘Get the Facts’ web posting is like 'Setting the Record Straight,' all spin without substance aimed at hiding the truth,” concluded Patel.

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