Residents, Local Officials Say ‘No’ to ‘Secure Communities’ Program

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsIn a rigorous drive to put a stop to the “Secure Communities” program, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and the Latino Policy Forum have both organized rallies this past week to bring attention to an issue that leaves many families shattered and torn apart. On Tuesday, Aug. 16 advocates rallying against the program joined members of the Latino Policy Forum at the Prudential Plaza and applauded Governor Pat Quinn for his decision to pull Illinois entirely out of the program. The consecutive day members of ICIRR held a rally at the Haymarket monument alongside State Representatives Cynthia Soto and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. ICIRR members released a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to show united opposition to the controversial federal program. The letter was signed by several public officials, including Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who criticized the program for being ‘deeply-flawed’. “I oppose the Secure Communities state and local immigration program and its rapid expansion because it undermines public safety and has not lived up to its stated goals of identifying and deporting serious criminals rather than non-criminal immigrants,” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Families rallied on Tuesday at the Prudential Plaza and Wednesday at the Haymarket monument against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Secure Communities” program.

Secure Communities” was launched in 2008 as a fingerprints-sharing program between local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to target and deport “criminal aliens” convicted of serious offenses. However, the program has grown into a tool that has mostly caught individuals wit nor or only minor criminal records. Recently, ICE announced that “Secure Communities” is mandatory and canceled its prior agreements with states regarding the program. “As I go out around the country, the first thing I hear about is the massive increase in deportations followed closely by concerns about how state and local law enforcement are being ordered to participate in those deportations,” said Gutierrez. “Adding a whole new layer of suspicion and confusion by changing the rules and declaring it a non-negotiable federal mandate for every state and locality further erodes any semblance of legitimacy the program ever had.” Among the attendees on Wednesday’s ICIRR rally was Jorge Avalos, whose brother was deported after police stopped his car for having a dreamcatcher hanging from the rearview mirror and Carolina, a mother whose husband Arnulfo is scheduled for deportation Friday, Aug. 19. In the last two years, approximately 1,000,000 immigrants were deported under President Barack Obama’s administration. If you would like to express your concerns about the “Secure Communities” program, email them to

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