States and citizens push back against Secure Communities; Immigrants continue to face labor protections, 7/2-7/9

12 Jul

CA State Senator Tom AmmianoCalifornia moved forward with legislation to limit Secure Communities

CA State Senate passed the Trust Act, a bill intended to limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement policies. The bill would prevent police and sheriff officials from detaining a person for deportation if that person does not have a prior felony conviction. 75,000 people have been deported from California since Secure Communities was implemented in 2009. Fewer than half of these individuals were convicted of serious violent felonies. By limiting the reach of S-Comm, the Trust Act will decrease the fear and stress that is caused by this policy.

Secure Communities also places many citizens and legal residents at risk of detention

This week Secure Communities faced its first legal challenge from a U.S. citizen. An Illinois resident is suing the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, after he was detained for two-months in a maximum-security prison when immigration officials mistakenly identified him as an undocumented immigrant. Under Secure Communities, local police check fingerprints against immigration and FBI databases. This sharing of information is a violation of the Privacy Act – and for some, like James Makowski, results in serious violations of personal rights and freedoms. This also demonstrates that immigration policies do not limit their harm to undocumented immigrants.

Expanded protections for all immigrant workers needed

Labor abuses of immigrants coming to the US through guest worker programs continue to be uncovered. Most recently, Wal-Mart stopped supplying seafood from C. J.’s Seafood after the National Guestworker Alliance publicized severe labor violations ranging from low wages to threatened physical abuse. The H-2B guest worker visa program has been subject to investigations by the GAO for a series of complaints about wage and working condition violations. New labor laws that were to take effect earlier this year have been postponed due to pushback from large businesses and cuts in enforcement funding.

President Obama continues to court immigrant voters

President Obama attended a naturalization ceremony for active duty military members, using the opportunity to speak about the importance of legislation such as the Dream Act, which would enable a path to legal status for immigrants who serve in the military or attend university.

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