Neighborhood Chatter

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Citywide Pols React Negatively to Planned Implementation of Secure Communities Program This week, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, along with several members of the City Council, held a press conference demanding that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) halt the activation of Secure Communities in New York City. According to a press release from the City Council, Secure Communities requires fingerprints taken by local law enforcement officials to be automatically shared with DHS for crosscheck so Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can determine whether the person arrested is deportable. If ICE determines that the person arrested is deportable, the release continues, it may issue an immigration detainer that requests the local law enforcement agency to hold the arrestee for 48 hours so ICE can assume custody. According to the City Council, immigrant advocates first raised concerns regarding the program's transparency, the potential that it would lead to racial and ethnic profiling and its likely negative effect on community policing in 2008, when Secure Communities was announced. These concerns were reiterated in the report issued by the Homeland Security Advisory Council's Task Force on Secure Communities in September 2011, but the City Council say the DHS and ICE's response to these concerns have been inadequate. "I am deeply troubled by and have always opposed the implementation of Secure Communities, in its current form, in New York City," said Quinn in a statement. "It has led to the deportation of many immigrants who were arrested for minor offenses and nonviolent crimes. If this program is brought to New York City, it will create fear in immigrant communities and corrode the bond between immigrants and local law enforcement." Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer added, "This Tuesday, the federal government's Secure Communities program will go into effect against the will of our state's governor and many of its elected leaders. As I have said in the past on many occasions, this program will lead to the unjust deportations of thousands of productive and legal immigrants and will cause millions of dollars in unnecessary costs to New York." "I strongly urge President Obama and Department of Homeland Security officials to hear the calls of so many around the country and make this program optional for the dozens of jurisdictions that wish to withdraw," Stringer added. Statewide Squadron Says ALEC's Activities Appear to Constitute Lobbying Last week, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, the ranking member of the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, urged the state Senate to hold a committee hearing on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its activities, which may constitute lobbying and raise questions about its role in the state. In a letter to Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Committee Chair Carl Marcellino, Squadron laid out ALEC's activities in New York, including that it claims to have introduced 39 pieces of "model legislation" in the Legislature in 2010. While it is unclear whether those 39 bills are still active, analysis strongly indicates that at least three bills currently moving through the legislature-S281 ("stand your ground" legislation), S5769 (prohibiting regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol services) and S7112 (a voter ID bill)-are closely based on ALEC's model legislation. The VoIP legislation passed the Senate last Tuesday. "ALEC's activities give the appearance of lobbying based on both New York State law and JCOPE's guidelines," wrote Squadron. "ALEC seems to engage in activity intended to influence the passage of legislation in New York State, to draft model legislation itself and to receive significant compensation from corporations to do so. Its role and its influence in New York State government must be addressed."

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