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Kudos to Patrick for standing ground on immigrant program

October 17, 2011

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RE “HOMELAND Security head counters Patrick; Defends sharing data with ICE’’ (Metro, Oct. 6): The Obama administration has constantly sought to redefine Secure Communities as the criticism against it has mounted. Secure Communities used to be a program “to identify and remove aliens who pose a threat to public safety.’’ But since it hasn’t actually done that, now Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims that it targets “criminals and egregious immigration law violators.’’

That is hardly the same thing. “Egregious immigration law violators’’ is the term Homeland Security uses for people who have been deported but have come back to the United States (and for those who were ordered to leave but never did, often because they simply didn’t know). Returning to the life they lost is the extent of their “crime.’’

Why do they violate the law? It’s nearly impossible to enter legally after deportation. Many of these deportees are parents of US citizen children who they’ve been separated from. It’s really not hard to imagine why they would return, by any means, again and again if necessary. It’s much harder to imagine how or why anyone thinks they are dangerous.

Governor Deval Patrick is absolutely right in his concerns about Secure Communities, particularly that it does not “distinguish between serious, violent offenders and those in the country illegally but who present no public safety threat.’’ No finagling of language can take away from the indiscriminate suffering that Secure Communities has wreaked on immigrant communities.

Lena Graber

Soros Justice Fellow,

National Immigration Project of the

National Lawyers’ Guild Boston