Gov. Patrick rejects federal deportation program in Massachusetts

ACLU applauds governor's leadership against so-called "Secure Communities"

Spanish: El Gobernador Patrick rechaza programa federal de deportación en Massachusetts

Monday, June 6, 2011

Christopher Ott, Communications Director, 617-482-3170 x322,

BOSTON -- Governor Patrick today announced his opposition to the federal deportation program known as "Secure Communities," or S-Comm, which sends the fingerprints of everyone arrested--not convicted--for any offense to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The controversial program sparked protest around the state in recent months over concerns that it encourages racial profiling, makes immigrants afraid to report crimes, and feeds information from immigrants and U.S. citizens alike into a vast database with little oversight.

"Today, Governor Patrick showed true leadership by saying no to S-Comm, a failed federal program that was ill-conceived from the start, undermined community policing efforts, and failed to do what its backers claimed it would," said Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. "Around Massachusetts, community members told the governor that S-Comm makes us all less safe, not more. We thank Governor Patrick for listening and responding to the concerns of both police and community members, and doing the right thing to keep our communities both safe and free."

Although S-Comm is supposed to focus on identifying and removing violent "Level 1" criminals, the latest ICE statistics show that a Boston pilot of the program over the last two years has fed an astounding 45,707 names and fingerprints from everyday Bostonians--presumably mostly U.S. citizens--into ICE's growing database. In Boston, S-Comm has also led to the deportation of twice as many people with no criminal convictions as "Level 1" offenders. People who have never been convicted of any crime represent 52 percent of the total number of those deported under S-Comm, with a further 15 percent committing only minor offenses.

As a result, community leaders, including chiefs of police, have come forward in opposition to S-Comm. According to Chelsea Chief of Police Brian Kyes, for example, S-Comm has created "mistrust of local police, discouraged people from reporting crime, and made everyone more vulnerable to crime by breaking down hard earned relationships." And on May 27, 2011, more than 120 organizations joined in asking Governor Patrick to reject S-Comm.

Governor Patrick joins the governors of other states opposed to S-Comm. Last month, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois announced his plans to pull Illinois out of the deportation program, and on June 1, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York suspended his state's participation as well.