Progressive Austin is falling behind on S-Comm

Austin End S-Comm
A tidal wave of local governments are saying no to the federal mass deportation program Secure Communities (S-Comm). And many are in places not usually known for their progressive politics. In all, more than 250 local jurisdictions — states, cities, and counties — have opted-out. This map shows the spread of opt-out policies, reaching from places like Ocean County, New Jersey to Doña Ana County, New Mexico; Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky to Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Leaders in Travis County, especially Sheriff Greg Hamilton, have the chance to lead the way for Texas and renounce S-Comm as a harmful practice. But they haven’t — yet. We have the numbers to know that S-Comm is wasteful. We also know that it rips families apart unnecessarily. And yet we continue to comply...even in this progressive county. We should be able to take back our community from a terrible federal program that doesn’t meet our standards, as many others have already.

Traditionally liberal states like Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and California are leading the way in the rejection of S-Comm. But so too are counties in places like like Doña Ana County in New Mexico and the parish of New Orleans—who changed their policies after they were sued for detaining someone without cause. Even Butler County, Kansas and Hall County, Nebraska—both in staunchly conservative states—and are taking initiative by deciding not to comply locally. Almost all of the counties in Colorado have decided not to comply with S-Comm.

While the Austin City Council is taking steps towards pushing the program out of our city, the County's policy remains on the wrong side of history. Just last night, Austin City Council proposed ammendments to an interlocal agreement about booking people at the local jail—but it remains up to the County to sign it.

Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton has been vocal in his support of S-Comm and because of that, this questionable-at-best federal program still has a hold on Travis County. He has claimed that his hands are tied, and that he must comply with what he describes as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive. That is absolutely untrue, however, as we have seen hundreds of counties and sheriffs end their participation who have faced no consequences from the federal government. 

S-Comm was designed in the midst of post-9/11 xenophobia to remove so-called “dangerous immigrants” to their countries. But all it’s really doing is wreaking havoc on immigrant communities and creating legal issues for counties all over the U.S. Recently, counties and states are pushing back against the initiative, claiming that the legal liability it puts them under is just too much — because the program simply violates people’s constitutional rights.

ICE claims that the program is meant to be an efficient way to use their budget. But a quick look at the numbers proves that S-Comm is an ineffective and costly attempt at a solution to a complex immigration issue that isn’t rooted in communities at home—though that’s where it is hurting people most.

For further explanation of S-Comm read this article by the ACLU of Massachusetts and sign the petition to end S-Comm in Travis County once and for all.