ACLU of Maryland Speaks Out in Support of Montgomery County Resolution

Against Anti-Immigrant Program



April 26, 2011

CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, 410-889-8555;
Melissa Goemann, ACLU Legislative Director, 410-693-4877;

ROCKVILLE, MD - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland will join CASA de Maryland to support a resolution sponsored by Montgomery County Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Valerie Ervin, and George Leventhal that condemns the Secure Communities program in Montgomery County. "Secure Communities" is a federal deportation program which requires that any time individuals are arrested and booked into a local jail for any reason, their fingerprints are electronically run through ICE's immigration database, allowing ICE to identify noncitizens and potentially initiate removal proceedings against them.

Statement of Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Maryland: "The Secure Communities program has been found to encourage racial profiling in many communities because local officials can arrest ‘foreign-looking' individuals for minor infractions just to book them and transmit their fingerprints to ICE. We applaud Councilmembers Navarro, Ervin, and Leventhal for drafting a resolution opposing this flawed and misguided system."

WHAT: Press Conference & Rally in opposition to "Secure Communities" program.

WHO: Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director, ACLU of Maryland, and Joanna Diamond, Legislative Associate, ACLU of Maryland.

WHEN: Press Conference begins at 12:15PM

WHERE: Montgomery County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD

BACKGROUND: Secure Communities is not governed by any statutory or regulatory guidelines. Despite Congress's direction that it be used to remove aliens convicted of a crime, the program has cast a far wider net and has operated with minimal internal or congressional oversight. Once an individual is processed into the system and fingerprinted, ICE can try to deport the individual even if no criminal charges are ever filed or if the arrest is later found to have been unconstitutional.

Over a quarter (26%) of all those deported under Secure Communities from 2008-2010 had no criminal convictions whatsoever. In certain jurisdictions, this number is much higher; for example, 82% of those deported under Secure Communities in Travis County, Texas were non-criminals. ICE's own records show that a large percentage of the individuals identified and deported under this program have been either non-criminals or minor offenders. This is built into Secure Communities basic design because the individuals are identified at the point of arrest - before they have been provided any due process of law or been charged with or convicted of a crime.

Secure Communities runs contrary to its stated goal of removing dangerous criminals and instead facilitates racial profiling and unconstitutional arrests as well as unfairly impacting minor offenders and those arrested but never charged with any offense at all.

Secure Communities has also inspired a widespread loss of trust in local law enforcement among immigrant communities, such that individuals are reluctant to approach law enforcement officers to report crimes or to act as witnesses. That loss of trust makes communities less safe for everyone.