A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Secure Communities’

an Immigrant Welcoming Community

Today, FSPA, together with nine other congregations of Catholic Sisters, declares itself an Immigrant Welcoming Community.

The sisters, based in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, call on President Obama and Congress to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform.   To make their point, they have issued a statement on “Welcoming Communities” and are placing billboards in the QuadCities,Des Moines, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Sioux Cityand Clinton,Iowa, this month in advance of the Iowa caucuses to make sure delegates, potential candidates and voters remember this critical issue.

“We declare ourselves ‘Welcoming Communities’ in affirmation of our Catholic tradition that holds sacred the dignity of each person,” the Sisters said in the official statement, “and we invite other communities and people of faith to join us in becoming ‘Immigrant Welcoming Communities’ through prayer, reflection, education and action.”

“Our ‘Welcoming Communities’ stance is a direct response to the government’s ‘Secure Communities’ program which has transformed local police officers into a primary gateway for deportation,” explained the sisters.

“The results have been hundreds of thousands of detentions and deportations, serious civil and human rights concerns, due process violations and damaged trust between immigrant communities and local police.”

They further noted that “the ‘Secure Communities’ process was marketed to local law enforcement agencies as a way to deal with serious and dangerous criminals. In fact, low-priority, non-violent offenders or even lawful permanent residents are being funneled into this program which is breaking up families, promoting racial profiling, and fueling a fear-filled and hateful anti-immigrant atmosphere.”

National immigration reform organizations assert that the “Secure Communities” program has actually made communities less safe because many individuals are afraid to report crimes that they experience or witness for fear of being deported or having neighbors, family members or friends deported.  As a result, they state, crimes are going unreported and communities, rather than becoming “secure” are living in fear.

“Failure on the part of the federal government to reform the present unworkable immigration system has resulted in states passing legislation that is punitive and harmful to human rights,” noted the Sisters.

“We understand that enforcement of law is part of any immigration policy,” the Sisters emphasized.  “However, the present policy of involving state and local law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of federal immigration law, such as in the ‘Secure Communities’ program, is not achieving that goal.  True security lies in building relationships and respecting human rights and only true, comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform can deal with the crisis in our nation.  Therefore, we are declaring ourselves Immigrant Welcoming Communities.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/catholicsisters.

Help end Secure Communities

Join with Voces de la Frontera for Immigrant Rights this week!

National Week of Action Begins Against Controversial Program
In response to the recent decision by the Obama Administration to mandate state and local participation in the controversial Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, Executive Director, Christine Neumann-Ortiz made the following statement:

“The dramatic decision of the Obama Administration to preempt the growing chorus of opposition at a state and local level to the S-Comm program and pending litigation, is a shocking development and a slap in the face to Latinos and naturalized US immigrants who gave President Obama their vote and trust in the 2008 elections.
President Obama´s rhetoric about how this program only targets dangerous criminals is by the US government’s own data, untrue.  His rhetoric about blaming Republicans for not helping pass immigration reform is completely missing the point. His record of mass deportations and the expansion of these type of programs under his leadership are shameful.  President Obama and his advisors are wrong if they believe these actions do not come with a price in the upcoming November 2012 presidential elections.¨  
On Friday, August 6, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 39 states who currently participate in S-Comm, many of whom signed voluntary opt-out clauses, that the program is now mandatory and that they cannot opt out as planned.  By 2013, DHS said, the program will be nationwide. S-Comm is a program in which fingerprints of people arrested and detained in a county jail–regardless if they are innocent of the charge or are charged with a minor infraction– are shared with immigration officials, resulting in the deportation of tens of thousands of immigrants each year.

There is now broad support across the country to end S-Comm. Law enforcement officials have determined that the program makes communities less safe and encourages racial profiling.  Community members, faith leaders, elected officials and members of Congress have all called for an investigation into S-Comm.

Contrary to DHS claims, S-Comm does not only target people charged or convicted of serious criminal offenses. In fact, according to DHS’s own data, 79 percent of individuals deported through Secure Communities between October 2008 and June 2010 were either non-criminal or were picked up for low-level offenses such as traffic violations.
The result of such a dragnet is the destruction of entire communities, as families are forced to witness their loved ones being detained and in many cases, deported. Families are separated and fall into greater poverty.  These are families that President Obama claims deserve the chance to legalize their status.
Pressure on the Obama administration to end these abuses is getting stronger each day.

This week (August 15-20th) marks a national week of action to urge Barack Obama and Congress to use their executive powers to stop the inhumane detentions and deportations.  Join in the action by sharing this alternative downloadable report with your Congress members. Click on the link below and print it out or copy and paste and send it as a link to your Reps and Senators!


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