Secure Communities program suspended

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suspended New York’s participation in the federal Secure Communities program to review allegations that the program is not meeting its goal and is having a negative impact on law enforcement.

According to a June 1 letter from the governor’s office to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Cuomo administration has received numerous complaints and questions about the purpose of the program.

"The heart of concern is that the program of targeting those who pose the greatest threat to our communities, is having the opposite effect and compromising public safety by deterring witnesses to crimes and others from working with law enforcement," the letter states.

The program, also known as S-Comm, allows for fingerprint-sharing between local police agencies and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), according to information from immigrant advocates. Through this collaboration, ICE agents automatically run a detainee’s fingerprints through immigration databases and target the person for deportation before any charges have been filed and even if the charges are later dismissed. Because of such tactics, immigration advocates have been collecting signatures on sites such as www.change.org against the program approved by former Gov. David Paterson.

Cuomo’s letter states that Homeland Security’s Inspector General also is investigating the program and "whether it is being applied equitably and whether prior representations to the states, including New York, regarding the program’s purpose, intent and impact are accurate."

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