Bob Libal: Secure Communities makes our community less safe

Remarks of Bob Libal at the Austin, TX action in support of World Refugee Day, June 20, 2011–gm

We are here in front of the Travis County Jail today to show the impact that a program called Secure Communities has had on our community.

Secure Communities is a program that fingerprints every person booked into the Travis County Jail and subjects non-citizens to detention and deportation if their fingerprints trigger a federal immigration match. Since this program was introduced in 2008, nearly 1,900 Travis County residents have been deported.

More than 27,000 people around the state have been deported since 2008 because of this program. And although ICE claims that Secure Communities is meant to target people with violent convictions, the vast majority of those snared in this program have no or minor charges.

Far from making our community more secure, this program has separated hundreds of families, created a climate of fear in our community, and led to the deportations of thousands of our neighbors. It is precisely these concerns that have led communities across the county to reject Secure Communities. In the last month, the states of New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts have all pulled out of this program.

We in Travis County and around Texas know that Secure Communities makes our community less safe. We know that Secure Communities breeds fear into the community, driving our immigrant brothers and sisters further into the shadows. Secure Communities also provides a steady business for the private prison company that ever more detainees to fill their detention beds.

And, so, we are here today to say No to Secure Communities! We are here to tell our elected officials all the way from Sheriff Greg Hamilton to President Barack Obama that Secure Communities has got to go!

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