by Gloria Pazmiño and Debralee Santos
Struggle lays ahead for New York State’s immigrant community. That was the consensus during a discussion about the controversial federal program known as Secure Communities during an immigration forum held by the Barack Obama Democratic Club (BODC) in Northern Manhattan on Wed., Nov. 18.
Secure Communities is under fire for requiring local governments and police to share information with the federal government and Homeland Security. The information swap enables the agency to target undocumented immigrants or resident immigrants who are not yet citizens, and make them deportable for committing minor offenses. It comes on the heels of legislation passed during the Clinton administration that increased the types of criminal offenses which immigrants can be deported for, no longer restricting the offenses to just violent crimes.
“Washington Heights, with its large Dominican population, acutely feels the impact of deportation as more than 50,000 Dominicans have been deported from the U.S. since the passage of the harsh 1996 immigration laws,” said Mizue Aizeki, a community organizer for the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights with offices in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx.