• Press Release

Secure Communities Expansion a Draconian Step

August 5, 2011

Will Undermine Crime Prevention and Further Marginalize Groups Who Are Already at Risk, Says Amnesty International

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) – In response to the announcement today that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will nullify all existing Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with local governments, Sarnata Reynolds, advocacy and policy director for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) issued the following statement:

"It is astounding that DHS ignored the advice of numerous state and local governments and ratcheted up its heartless and arbitrary attack on undocumented immigrants. Amnesty International is very concerned that this decision essentially rejects the outcry from governments and advocates, exhibiting no respect for the very communities that will be affected. This policy defies logic, denies rights and belies a callous immigration policy.

"Numerous counterproductive trends with enforcement of Secure Communities have already emerged. The program is not functioning in a manner consistent with due process. In particular, the program is rife with credible allegations of racial profiling, sometimes followed by coercive law enforcement practices in which people sign away all their rights and "agree" to deportation without understanding the process. In a United States true to its principles, a routine traffic stop should not lead to deportation within hours. Banishment from the United States is a disproportionate punishment for a traffic violation.

"Contrary to its PR-friendly title, Secure Communities can undermine community safety by terrorizing immigrant communities whose members will refrain from reporting crimes due to fear of deportation; will minimize cooperation with law enforcement; and will retreat further into the shadows, thereby becoming more vulnerable to exploitation by employers and more susceptible to crime. Amnesty International is aware of multiple cases in which this has been the result, including a woman who called the police to report domestic violence against her sister, but who, herself, was arrested and deported."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.


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