Advocates welcome discussion, remain wary
2/15/2011 BOSTON -- The Patrick administration announced yesterday that it would hold a series of community meetings to discuss concerns over the implementation of "Secure Communities," a federally mandated program that would report all persons arrested by local police to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE's stated intention is to use Secure Communities to catch and deport criminal offenders, but studies have shown that non-criminals are often ensnared by the program's huge net.
Secure Communities has operated in Boston as a pilot program for several years, and according to Freedom of Information figures, 53 percent of those deported since November 2008 have NOT been criminal offenders. Community members remains deeply concerned that the program's primary effect, therefore, is to turn local police into de facto ICE agents.
"We appreciate the Governor has set up this series of open meetings to hear from immigrant communities and other concerned residents," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "We hope that the feedback the administration receives will encourage them to resist the implementation of the program as it currently exists. Unless it is fundamentally reformed, Secure Communities will lead to the exact opposite -- insecure communities. By making immigrants fearful of collaborating with the police, a vital community bond is broken and our towns and cities become more dangerous places for everyone."
The Patrick administration announced meetings in the following locales:
Worcester: Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square, Saturday, February 26, 2-4pm
Framingham: Mass Bay Community College, Framingham Campus, Room 205-206, Saturday, March 12, 2-4pm
Lawrence: NEW INFO: Saturday, April 2, 3 â€“ 5 pm, Lawrence High School, 70-71 North Parish Rd, Lawrence, MA 01841
Waltham: Saturday, April 16, 12-2pm, Location (TBD)
Chelsea: Thursday, April 28, 6-8pm, Location (TBD)
Brockton: Thursday, May 12, 12-2pm, Location (TBD)
Lowell: Thursday, May 26, 6-8pm, Location (TBD)
New Bedford: Saturday, June 11, 12-2pm, Location (TBD)
Springfield: Thursday, June 30, 6-8pm, Location (TBD)
Boston: Saturday July 9, 12-2pm, Location (TBD)
In partnership with its members, MIRA works for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and refugees through policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training and leadership development, and strategic communications.
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