SPRINGFIELD, IL - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement notifying the agency that because of its indiscriminate use of the "Secure Communities" deportation program, the State is ending its participation in the program. The letter states "that the implementation of the Secure Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose of the MOA... By ICE's own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime." The Governor's letter concludes, "With this termination, no new counties in Illinois can be activated and those counties that were previously activated... must be deactivated and removed from the Secure Communities program."
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, praised the Governor's action: "Governor Quinn took the state of Illinois one step forward toward sensible solutions for our broken immigration system. We need more policies like the Illinois DREAM Act, which the Senate passed today, not indiscriminate and reckless enforcement."
The Governor's letter comes in the wake of mounting criticism of the "Secure Communities" program for what U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California describes as outright deception in its implementation and for the widely reported use of the program to deport people still presumed to be innocent despite the program's mission of focusing on "convicted dangerous criminals."
The Illinois legislature is scheduled to weigh in on the program with a pending vote on the Smart Enforcement Act, which would regulate and require reporting on the program.
Chris Newman from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network concluded," DHS has been reckless and dishonest in its rapid expansion of a program that commandeers scare local law enforcement resources, endangers community safety, and erodes trust in law enforcement. The simple fact is DHS cannot make law and policy by decree, and Governor Quinn has taken appropriate action to protect the residents of Illinois."