October 26, 2016
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Rights Groups Take ICE To Court

 NEW YORK -  The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law will request an emergency injunction in federal court in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuitNDLON v. ICE filed on behalf of the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON). The case requests information regarding the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Secure Communities program and the emergency injunction specifically requests documents related to the voluntary nature of the program, which has been unclear thus far. Advocates and community leaders across the country have called this program "dangerous" and say it strains local law enforcement and resources while damaging already the already tenuous relationship between immigrant communities and the police.

"To keep our families together, we need to keep police and ICE separate. The Orwellian-named Secure Communities program does the opposite of making us safer," saidSarahí Uribe of NDLON. "We see innocent people swept up in a massive dragnet sending a chilling effect through migrant communities."   Advocates argue that ICE'S unwillingness to provide clear information about the program's opt-out process at a time when municipalities such as San Francisco and Santa Clara in California and Arlington, Virginia voted to opt-out and numerous others localities are deliberating their participation, requires court-ordered immediate access to key documents.

"As advocates across the country are pushing on the state and local levels to find a way to opt-out of Secure Communities, we are going to court to obtain information that the public and advocates need to determine how and if it's possible to opt-out," said CCR staff attorney Sunita Patel. "Only the government has the information everyone needs."

The groups say immigration authorities in charge of the program, which culls fingerprint data from local jails, have been inconsistent and dishonest in representing the relationship between local governments and the federal program. In an email to Governor Patterson, the agency said "[W]e get it. No one will be forced.']. In a press conference two months later, ICE wrote: "[W]e do not see this as an opt-in opt-out program."

At a recent speaking engagement, Assistant Director of Secure Communities David Venturella was confronted by Maria Bolaños, a domestic violence survivor whose call for help resulted in deportation proceedings under the program. His accusation of inaccurate reporting moved the Washington Post to publish "ICE Reversals Sowing Mistrust." Citing cases like Bolaños as a reason for concern, cities worried about the program's effects on community-policing efforts are interested in opting-out of the overly broad dragnet. The on-going dishonesty and desire to opt-out makes gives today's injunction urgency.

With thirteen states yet to join the program, New York and numerous other activated jurisdictions still trying to get out, and its current spokespeople unwilling to set the record straight, advocates are asking a judge to counteract the misinformation by opening the files related to the "opt-out" policies immediately.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.


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