Translated by SeungYoun Woo
Governor Deval Patrick raised an objection to the immigrant issue, posing for the first time a different opinion from President Obama, who has been a “friend and political ally” of Patrick.
On June 7th, Patrick held a press conference with reporters of minority groups, and announced that he decided not to “sign any memorandum of agreement (MOA) to participate in the Secure Communities program” with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “We will give up more than we get,” Patrick reasoned. According to the June 3rd letter to ICE, he said that he will not sign onto the program that rules checking the immigration status of arrested immigrants.
At the press conference that was held at McCormack Hall in U. Mass. Boston, Patrick said “This decision is not disagreeing with President Obama’s immigration policy. President Obama and I have been sharing thoughts about more comprehensive immigration reform for years. The summary of bills that were sent to the Congress actually solves many issues that we have debated.” He pointed out that he is not differing with the President’s fundamental perspective about immigrant issues .
The Secure Communities program is a program that checks identities and fingerprints of arrested immigrants, and sends them to the immigration office and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Then they check the criminal’s past crime records and finally banish illegally immigrated criminals from the U.S. The Secure Communities program has been enforced in only one city in MA, Boston, since 2006, and it will be officially implemented throughout the U.S. in 2013.
Patrick pointed out a problem of the Secure Communities program and said, “It is not all about focusing on aliens with serious crimes. Based on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics, about 1 in 4 of those deported had been convicted of a serious crime. Also based on the ICE data, the problem of the Secure Communities program is that it banishes aliens that are non-criminals.”
Patrick also added, “The program will force immigrants who witness crime scenes to cooperate with police. This is a serious concern. Also it will increase the possibility of police increasing racial profiling.”
On June 7th,the Boston Globe reported on the front page that “Patrick’s rejection of the Secure Communities program yesterday can do little, if anything, to impede the program from expanding statewide by 2013,” according to the official related to ICE.
A reporter questioned if the rejection is a symbolic decision and Patrick answered, “Secure Communities does not have anything to do with what the state does. It has to do with the information sharing between federal organizations. I think that asking states to sign the MOA was itself supposed to be a symbolic gesture.”
Governor Patrick argued that criminals’ fingerprints are still sent to the FBI, and serious criminals are still subject to ICE’s process of banishment. This results in the Security Communities program sharing data only with ICE and the FBI.
“Fingerprints are sent to the FBI. ICE checking immigrant criminals’ data is currently possible without anyone’s permission. Why do we need another Secure Communities program?” said Patrick.
Patrick decided to sign the Secure Communities program last December. However, after 6 public hearings with the immigration community, he discovered that about 75% of immigrants object to it, and he changed his opinion not to sign. This program is currently implemented in 42 states, and Massachusetts is now together with New York and Illinois, which are the opposing states.
The Republicans strongly criticized Governor Patrick that he is gathering political benefits when it is a public safety concern. Bruce Tarr, the Senate Republican leader of MA said, “It’s unfortunate that the governor is weakening public safety in the Commonwealth by retreating from expressed commitments.” An Uxbridge Democrat Senator, Richard T. Moore, said he is “severely disappointed” that Patrick “pit[s] politics ahead of the public safety of our residents.”
“I made a judgment not based on politics. I am considering which option benefits all MA residents. I think that public safety requires a relationship with communities. The Secure Communities program eventually increases immigrants’ anxiety, makes them refuse cooperation at criminal scenes, and finally brings out racial profiling,” said Governor Deval Patrick.
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지