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Obama doesn’t know how to take a hint

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty  September 16, 2011 05:12 PM

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ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Laura Rótolo wrote the following guest blog.

Some days it’s hard to believe that “Secure Communities” or S-Comm, the Obama administration’s principal immigration enforcement initiative, is still alive. It wasn’t enough that communities across the United States have been loudly and visibly organizing against it. It wasn’t enough that representatives of Congress questioned the honesty with which it was rolled out. It wasn’t enough that cities and states, including Boston and Massachusetts, have been saying they don’t want the program. And it wasn’t enough that the Homeland Security Inspector General is investigating.

Yesterday, the task force created by John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to advise him on S-Comm, issued its report. Morton had created this task force in response to growing criticism of the program but had stacked the deck so that he was sure to win. He put people on the task force whom he believed would be on his side, including police chiefs and state homeland security officials, but failed to put a single community leader on it. He gave the committee just a few short weeks to write a report, and he even narrowed the mandate to one question--what to do with people picked up for traffic violations. Even with all of this, yesterday, Morton and the Obama administration got a resounding vote of no-confidence.

The task force told ICE that S-Comm erodes public trust of police by deporting thousand of immigrants who have not committed serious crimes, undermining community policing efforts.

And as if that weren’t enough, five of the nineteen task force’s members--including the unions--resigned, some saying the report’s recommendations did not go far enough. In his resignation letter, Arturo Venegas, the former police chief of Sacramento, said he believes that S-Comm is a “deeply flawed program and that, in its current form, is undermining public safety.”

The lone voices in favor of S-Comm, such as Senator Scott Brown, either operate under false assumptions about the program or simply aren’t listening to the current and former police chiefs, victims’ rights advocates, and common-sense people who oppose it.

As a reaction to the tragic killing of a Milford man by a drunk driver who was undocumented, many have called for S-Comm in that city. They say that if S-Comm had been in place there, the driver would have been caught before, and deported, saving a life. But the opposite is also true. The driver’s family members reportedly were the first to contact the Milford police when they saw that he was out of control. If S-Comm had been in place, they may have felt too afraid to reach out. And like them, other crime victims and witnesses will not trust the police enough to make that important call.

Take a hint, Obama, it’s time to end S-Comm. We’ve said it, and now your own people are saying it. S-Comm is dangerous for our communities. It’s time to end it.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Carol Rose is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. A lawyer and journalist, Carol has spent her career working for and writing about human rights and civil liberties, both in the United States and abroad. More »

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