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May 27, 2011

STOP ICE's insecure  communities campaign


Communities Challenge WA Counties on "Secure Communities" Program

Today, OneAmerica and its allies launched the Stop ICE's Insecure Communities campaign to fight back against a divisive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program called "Secure Communities." The program threatens to undermine years of trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

Across Washington State, suddenly, eight counties have agreed to participate in a controversial, opaque program that will ultimately lead to the deportation of residents who never committed a criminal offense. Each county has made its decision with no input from the public or affected communities.

In April, Yakima and Lewis counties announced they would be the first in the state to sign-up for ICE’s “Secure Communities” program, but offered no opportunity for the public to have a voice in the program’s implementation which is slated for early June. Several more counties followed suit, including Benton, Franklin, Gray’s Harbor, Island, Pacific and Walla Walla – none of them asking local residents for their input.

"Secure Communities" allows state and local police to check the fingerprints of everyone they book into a jail – even those not convicted of any crimes – against civil immigration databases and if there is a “hit,” ICE is automatically notified. The program erodes trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities, contains hidden costs for cash-strapped local governments, and ends up deporting people who have never been charged with serious crimes – some with no criminal history at all – in direct opposition to the stated purpose of the program.

OneAmerica is joing up with several groups, including Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Washington Association of Churches, and the Asian Pacific Islander Coalitions of King and Pierce Counties, to bring affected communities together with local officials to discuss concerns over the program. The Stop ICE's Insecure Communities campaign is planning these community meetings across the state, fortified by an online petition effort, to ensure that counties interested in the program reconsider before it becomes operational.

The first public meeting scheduled is in Yakima on Wednesday, June 1 at 6pm at the Holy Redeemer Church, 1707 S. 3rd Ave. between Washington & Mead Avenues. Yakima Sheriff Ken Irwin, Yakima Interim Police Chief Greg Copeland, Yakima County Department of Corrections Director Ed Campbell, and others who have a say in agreeing to "Secure Communities" have been invited.

Other jurisdictions across the country have challenged "Secure Communities," including the State of Illinois, whose Governor recently terminated its participation and the DHS Inspector General’s Office who announced an investigation into the program.


For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Charlie McAteer, OneAmerica Communications Director, 206-452-8402, charlie@weareoneamerica.org.

OneAmerica logoOneAmerica, formerly Hate Free Zone, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice by building power within immigrant communities.

Petition urging counties to stop Secure Communities - English, Español

Stop ICE's Insecure Communities campaign homepage

ICE's "Secure Communities" Fact Sheet

ICE's Local Law Enforcement programs

Stop ICE's Insecure Communities First Public Meeting in Yakima

When: 6pm, Wednesday, June

Where: Holy Redeemer Church, 1707 S. 3rd Ave. between Washington & Mead Avenues. Yakima

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