Governor Patrick's Decides Not to Sign Onto "Secure Communities"

6/6/11, BOSTON — Governor Deval Patrick announced that he would not sign the Memorandum of Agreement entering the Commonwealth into the "Secure Communities" immigration enforcement program.  The Governor's decision demonstrates the growing tide of resistance to this controversial federal program, which sends the fingerprints of anyone arrested by local police through an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database, allowing ICE to flag matches for deportation.

The program's intention is to deport dangerous criminals. But ICE's own statistics have shown a preponderance of low level and non-criminal offenders ensnared and deported by "Secure Communities," which the federal government wants to institute at every police force in the nation by 2013. Governor Patrick's decision not to participate makes him the third governor to reject the program, which has come under internal investigation by Homeland Security's Inspector General for its over-extended reach.

The Governor, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, immigration advocates, the editorial boards of major newspapers, and advocates for domestic violence victims have all objected to "Secure Communities" for endangering the bond of trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, among numerous other flaws.

"We applaud the Governor for taking this important step and rejecting this harmful program," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition."We are pleased  that the Governor took seriously his decision to reconsider "Secure Communities" this winter, when he called for a series of community meetings across the state on its potential implementation. As we stated at each of those meetings, the program would have been completely redundant in Massachusetts, which already has a 287(g) agreement with the Department of Corrections. Instead, its major effect would have been creating the perception that local police were acting as de facto federal immigration officers. We hope that President Obama will hear the stance of Governor Patrick, as well as of Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Quinn of Illinois, and reconsider this program's implementation."

"The Governor's rejection of Secure Communities is an affirmation of the needs of victims of domestic violence, " said Laura Van Zandt, Executive Director at REACH Beyond Domestic Violence. "To save themselves victims must overcome fear not only of their attackers, but also of local police. This is a great move by the Governor toward ensuring their protection."

"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."