Dear panel- we quit! E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

A group tasked with suggesting ways to fix the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program has released its report. Well at least a section of the group released the report. Five committee members resigned in disagreement with the report and the way it reached its conclusions, including all three of the union members on the panel and a retired police chief.

The task force members who did not resign say that the Department of Homeland Security should start over and "reintroduce" the program in areas where it has met with resistance from law enforcement and other groups.

The task force members that did not resign also say that undocumented immigrants with minor traffic offenses should be exempted from deportation under the Secure Communities program.

The five members of the 19-member task force that resigned say they did so because they could not support the final recommendations and disagreed with the committee's decision-making process.

Arturo Venegas, retired police chief of Sacramento and director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, said the committee's recommendations won't address the issues that have proven problematic.

"I believe that people with minor infractions, such as driving without a license, will still be put into deportation proceedings based on the scheme recommended by the task force," he wrote in a letter to Chuck Wexler, chairman of the task force and the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). "Immigrants will continue to fear that contact with the police could lead to deportation, crimes will go unreported, and criminals will remain free to prey on others."

The 14 members who did sign off on the recommendations were extremely critical of the heavy-handed approach used by DHS to essentially strong-arm reluctant jurisdictions and states into participation.

The report said that DHS gave local and state agencies and entities "incorrect or incomplete" information regarding the program.

If you read APB you might have seen several articles on this issue.

The Department of Homeland Security initially said the program would be voluntary for local communities and based on memorandums of understanding with states. But when counties and states began to try to opt out, the department changed its tune, saying the program was never meant as an "opt-in/opt-out program."

States were later informed that their memorandums of understanding with the Department of Homeland Security were meaningless. New York, Illinois and Massachusetts, all of which moved to block the program locally, were told the program would continue to operate whether they wanted it or not.
The report also said Secure Communities could have an "unintended negative impact" on immigrant communities and harm community policing efforts by making immigrants afraid to contact the police.

The task force found in its hearings that many people detected by immigration authorities by the program, supposedly the "worst of the worst," had committed only minor crimes.

The three union members to resign, Christopher Crane and Monica Beamer of the American Federation of Government Employees and Andrea Zuniga DiBitetto of the AFL-CIO, said in a letter that they could not support the final report because they disagreed with the manner in which it was written.

"We entered the task force with a true willingness to participate in a collaborative effort," the letter reads.

"Unfortunately, throughout the process, it became clear that our perspectives and recommendations were not going to be acknowledged or contained in the report onto which we have been asked to sign."


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