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The NYIC Applauds Governor Cuomo's Suspension of NY Participation in "Secure Communities" Program

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York City  (Wednesday, June 1, 2011)

The NYIC Applauds Governor Cuomo's Suspension of NY Participation in "Secure Communities" Program

Today, Governor Cuomo announced that he was suspending New York State’s participation in the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, which the previous administration had entered into without public input.

The federal program, ostensibly aimed at prioritizing individuals convicted of serious crimes that pose a threat to public safety, has come under fire for failing to achieve its goals, undermining local community policing efforts and creating a climate of fear among hardworking immigrant communities. Just recently, the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Homeland Security announced its own investigation into the program, underscoring the concerns raised by government officials, law enforcement officers, and advocates across the country.

Cuomo, as the second governor in the country to halt participation in the program, has proudly upheld New York's tradition of immigration and civil rights. Last month, Illinois was the first state to withdraw from the program.

“Governor Cuomo is right to suspend the state’s participation in the program,” said Ms. Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “It’s gratifying that his administration has taken the concerns we’ve raised to heart, and responded accordingly; his leadership on this issue can be an inspiration to other governors across the nation who are also grappling with this problematic program. We hope his decision today will strengthen our efforts to get the Obama administration and his Department of Homeland Security to reverse course on this failed policy, and we look forward to working with him to make that happen.”

“The Governor does New York proud by taking this stand for the public safety of all New Yorkers,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “He has heard the concerns of people around the state and country, from law enforcement officials to community advocates, and done the right thing. I look forward to working with him to address this issue at the national level.”

"I applaud Governor Cuomo for suspending New York's participation in the controversial Secure Communities program,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “While the program's stated purpose has been to focus on the deportation of dangerous offenders, ICE's own statistics show that S-Comm has not accomplished what it was intended to do. As both a resident of the Bronx and as the ranking member of the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee, I am proud to stand with the Governor in declaring that New York will not participate in a program that makes our communities less secure."

Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County, Illinois, a Republican, added, "ICE's own numbers show that 'Secure Communities' is being used to deport people based on immigration violations rather than criminal convictions. This program is diverting limited local law enforcement resources from our main job of catching and prosecuting criminals. I hope that Governor Cuomo's decision will encourage ICE to review this program to provide more accountability and truly make our entire community safer."

“I am elated by Governor Cuomo’s swift and praiseworthy action to suspend the implementation of Secure Communities, a change that will save the lives and futures of so many families and immigrant New Yorkers, and help bring communities together in New York,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “Cuomo’s initiative is on the right side of history by rejecting overly broad enforcement policies that divide and discriminate against immigrants, undermine law enforcement and impose burdensome costs on our government. As a longtime opponent of Secure Communities, I am grateful that Governor Cuomo has worked closely with immigrant communities and other stakeholders to bring this needed change and keep New York at the forefront as an immigrant city and state.”

A copy of the letter to the Department of Homeland Security can be found HERE.

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