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Racial Profiling, False Arrests, Deportation -- The True Face of Federally Mandated "Secure Communities"

Advertised as a way to target and deport “criminal aliens,” the reality is that Secure Communities is itself the danger.

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All along, the new laws and their racially targeted enforcement was a thinly veiled and highly successful attempt to criminal African Americans and Latinos.

“The whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to,” explained H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon’s chief of staff.

Now, with the rise of Secure Communities, the punishment for having been constructed as a criminal is not only incarceration in the world’s largest prison system—it is exile.

“Unjust drug policies are now a major factor in deportation,” said Mizue Aizeki, an activist and photographer who has spent years fighting Secure Communities in New York City. “How is it that we’ve gotten to this point where you get convicted and you have this punishment of exile that you have no way to fight?” She sighs. “Obama identified something that’s politically palatable but is really off the wall oppressive.”

Monday and Intel

Given Secure Communities’ failure to achieve its mission, many wonder why the federal government would push the program onto states and cities so aggressively in an election year, especially when it threatens to expose the hypocrisy and unfulfilled promises of Obama’s immigration policy.

Activists have different answers. First, there’s President Obama’s unprecedented deportation quota of 400,000 people per year, one so high that it all but necessitates taking mechanized shortcuts. Second, there’s the increasingly lucrative private detention center industry that was a major lobbying force behind Arizona’s anti-immigration laws. A recent investigation by NPR revealed, for example, that executives at Corrections Corporation of America—the largest private prison company in the country—have moved into deportation centers as “their next big market.” 

And then there is the fact that the government is building a massive information database called Next Generation Identification (NGI), and Secure Communities is the pilot program.

“Ultimately, LEA [law enforcement agency] participation is inevitable because SC [Secure Communities] is simply the first of a number of biometric interoperatability systems being brought online by the FBI/CJIS 'Next Generation Identification' initiative," wrote an internal ICE guide.

Next Generation Identification will allow multiple branches of the government to track U.S. citizens and residents using facial recognition, iris scans, voice recordings and even information about tattoos, scars and gait length. The potential for this database raises concerns from civil liberty advocates about how and when this tracking system will be used, especially after the Department of Homeland Security’s widespread surveillance of peaceful Occupy Wall Street camps last fall was revealed.

“This is the first step in terms of gathering, culling and consolidating information. It allows the increase in the technological capacity to identify people very quickly at a high rate,” said Ling. “There are many folks, especially citizens, who think Secure Communities is benign. But the government has a larger reason to be collecting this data.”

Against the "Inevitable"

Unfortunately for the feds, full participation with Secure Communities is not inevitable.

For the last two years, DREAMers and other immigration activists have been staging direct actions against Secure Communities from Charlotte to Phoenix to San Bernardino, in which undocumented students blocked intersections and forced their own arrests to see if they can beat the deportation machine.

Under intense media scrutiny, time after time ICE has bowed to political pressure and let the protesters walk free.

“In North Carolina, everyone was put into deportation proceedings,” said Mohammad Abdollahi with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. “But then the ICE officers came to us and said, ‘This has never happened to us in five years,’ as they took our paperwork away and ripped it up right in front of us.”

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