No to ‘Secure Community’

From the September-October 2011 issue of News & Letters:

No ‘Secure Community’

Los Angeles–On Aug. 13 the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Los Angeles (CHIRLA), held a press conference against Secure Community (SC), the federal government program that allows local police to act as federal immigration agents. Under the program, over a million immigrants have been deported, most after being stopped for minor offenses.

According to CHIRLA: “From the beginning, SC has been shrouded in lies and deception–and was a smokescreen for achieving record numbers of deportations. Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times called for its shelving.”

Protest signs read: “Stop ripping families apart!” One sign said, “R.I.P. S.O. 40.” “Special Order 40” is the L.A. Police Department’s 30-year policy of non-cooperation with immigration agents is now dead because of SC. Isaura Garcia said she was a victim of domestic violence who called the police. The police arrested, handcuffed and detained her for seven days.

Many street vendors are under attack because of SC. A young man was arrested in South Gate while selling ice cream because he had no ID. While detained, he resisted strong pressure to sign a confession because he knew his rights. He said, “Obama, the Latino Community voted for you, and you need to end this.”

That evening the Homeland Security Task Force Advisory Council to ICE held a hearing on SC. An hour before it started, hundreds of youths marched from CHIRLA’s office with signs reading, “Terminate Secure Community,” “Legalization or no reelection,” “No more lies, terminate the program,” and “The Border is illegal, not the workers.”

The Southern California Immigration Coalition reported that police at checkpoints have impounded cars for minor traffic violations or for expired drivers licenses. It’s lose your car or pay $500 to get it back.

At the hearing, a student told of how his ten-year-old brother was taken to foster care after his parents were detained. A spokesman for Mayor Villaraigosa said, “Terminate the program.” An activist followed with, “Tell Villaraigosa to stop stealing our cars too!”

A youth who was arrested by the San Bernardino Police told the task force, “Over one million people have been deported. You need to resign!” A task force person responded, “We have an opportunity to reform SC.” The audience erupted with chants of “No More Lies! Terminate the program!” Hundreds of youths walked out and rallied in the streets chanting, “We don’t need a hearing, we need to end the program.”

–Basho

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