secure communities

Jan 20, 2016
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The Texas Tribune

Activists Sue 10 Federal Agencies Over Secrecy in Deporting Alleged Criminals

A coalition of attorneys and immigrant rights groups is suing 10 federal agencies over withholding documents related to how the Obama administration is dealing with deporting alleged criminal immigrants.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Asian-Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus and the Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo Law School, alleges the agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office of Immigration Review, have violated public records laws for not releasing information about implementing the Priority Enforcement Program, also known as PEP. The program is  intended to prioritize the deportation of what government officials have called “the worst of the worst.”

"ICE is, once again, operating in secrecy. It's time for the nation's largest police force to come clean," said NDLON executive director Pablo Alvarado.

...

Some groups in Texas maintain the policy change hasn’t made any difference, despite federal officials' promises that PEP would be less sweeping.

“The deportation rate in Travis County, Texas, home to so-called liberal oasis Austin, continues to be one of the highest in the state and the U.S. An average of 19 people a week are deported from Travis County,” said Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit group opposed to Secure Communities and PEP, in a statement in July. The group posted on its website a video clip of Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton telling county commissioners that PEP was, in essence, the same as Secure Communities and “all [the government] did was change the name.” Read more about Activists Sue 10 Federal Agencies Over Secrecy in Deporting Alleged Criminals

"All they did was change the name," Texas Sheriff exposes PEP-Comm deportation program

A Texas sheriff has blown the lid of the federal government's new deportation program, admitting that it's just like the disgraced "Secure Communities" program. 

Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton has faced intense local pressure to opt out of S-Comm but has been vocal about his support for S-comm and working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in general. The sheriff and ICE have even been eager pen pals

So you can believe Sheriff Hamilton when he says that the "Priority Enforcement Program" or PEP-Comm, which is supposed to replace S-Comm, is just the same thing with a new name. 


Read more about "All they did was change the name," Texas Sheriff exposes PEP-Comm deportation program
Nov 21, 2014
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The Texas Observer

Obama’s Immigration Reform: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A Priority Enforcement Program, aka PEP, replaces the controversial Secure Communities program—which encouraged local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law. It looks like under PEP, ICE detainers will be replaced by a notfication system among other things.

Cristina Parker, spokesperson for the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, which helped lead the charge in Texas against the unpopular Secure Communities program, says that her organization and others who have fought against the program for years are celebrating its demise. S-COMM was the reason that many immigrants were deported for minor misdemeanors or traffic infractions.

Parker says they are pessimistic, however, about the new program and eagerly awaiting more details on how it will be implemented. “ICE doesn’t inspire confidence in how it follows directives. It’s a rogue agency. And this really sounds very similar to the first day of S-COMM,” she says. “That’s kind of where we’re at now but we’re trying to be cautiously optimistic.” Read more about Obama’s Immigration Reform: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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.

Read more about Progressive Austin is falling behind on S-Comm

Oct 15, 2014
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Austin American-Statesman

Despite criticism, Travis County sheriff stands by deportation program

In a dialogue on October 15th with Grassroots Leadership Executive Director Bob Libal, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition Executive Director Alejandro Caceres, and Texas Civil Rights Project Staff Attorney Amelia Fischer, Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton again defended his office’s participation in a federal program that helps deport immigrants arrested in Travis County. Read more about Despite criticism, Travis County sheriff stands by deportation program

Humpday Hall of Shame: Travis County's million dollar deportation program

Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton submitted an unfunded budget request totaling more than $7.4 million this summer. In response, the Travis County Commissioners Court asked him to put the request in priority order. Those priorities totaled $1.8 million dollars, and included things such as more mental health counselors at the jail, and other staff as well as license plate readers, fingerprint technology, and other upgrades.
 
Sheriff Hamilton and his top officers testified about the need for this budget increase — for a budget that already totals more than $153 million — on Wednesday August 13, where he was met with more than 30 people protesting his continued compliance with the federal mass deportation program.
 
Missing from the discussion were the millions of dollars the Travis County Sheriff's Office is spending by detaining immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the "Secure Communities" program. 
 
Today we released a report showing that the Travis County Sheriff's Office has spent more than $3.8 million in the last two years holding people in the jail for ICE.
Read more about Humpday Hall of Shame: Travis County's million dollar deportation program
Jul 3, 2014
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Austin Chronicle

Hamilton Digs In: Won't End 'S-Comm'

"We're very happy the City Council has taken leadership on this issue," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.

"Republican sheriffs in Cali­­fornia, Colorado, Kansas, rural Oregon, have said they're not going to violate people's rights and honor ICE detainers," Libal said. "It's very frustrating that the sheriff continues to demonize the immigrant community and perpetuate outright lies about them." Read more about Hamilton Digs In: Won't End 'S-Comm'

Jun 28, 2014
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TWC News

Sheriff: Deportation Program is Federally Mandated

Travis County ranks 11th in the nation when it comes to the number of people deported. A total of 4,741 people have been deported from the county in the last fiveyears.

"I think that really puts him on the wrong side of history," Bob Libal with Grassroots Leadership.

Libal said recent court decisions essentially allow jails to ignore requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain inmates. "This is devastating to the immigrant community," he said. "It also wastes taxpayer dollars, and it's illegal." Read more about Sheriff: Deportation Program is Federally Mandated

Jun 27, 2014
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Austin Chronicle

Council Slams ‘S-Comm’ - Unanimous vote rejects county participation in deportation program

In a 7-0 vote Thursday evening, City Council unanimously passed a resolution formally opposing the federal Secure Communities program, through which immigration officials identify jail inmates for deportation – including large numbers of arrestees detained at the Travis County jail. Read more about Council Slams ‘S-Comm’ - Unanimous vote rejects county participation in deportation program

Victory! Austin city council passes S-Comm resolution 7-0

On Thursday, June 26, Austin city council members unanimously passed a resolution to oppose Travis County's participation in Secure Communities. Secure Communities, or S-Comm, is a federal program through which immigrants can be detained in local jails like the Travis County Jail until Immigration and Customs Encorcement (ICE) can take them into custody. The resolution is sponsored by council members Laura Morrison, Mike Martinez and mayor pro-tem Sheryl Cole. No one offered opposing remarks on this resolution. 

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