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Arizona SCOTUS Ruling Frames NY “Secure Communities” Debate

June 26, 2012

NEW YORK - Just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court's split decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law, a new education campaign is being launched today to deal with local fears surrounding enforcement on Long Island of federal immigration rules, particularly the Secure Communities immigration program, known as S-com.

Ted Hesson, online editor for Long Island Wins, says that for now the portion of the Supreme Court ruling that upholds the "show me your papers law" applies to Arizona police, but his group is concerned because there have been plenty of copycat laws around the nation.

"Whereas S-com is sort of de facto authorizing police to act as immigration agents on the local level, this is actually requiring the police who are out there to be doing this as part of their job."

The Supreme Court ruled that the remaining three provisions of Arizona's immigration law violate the Constitution.

Liz O'Shaughnessey is the founder of CoLoKi, operator of the "Freeport Trailer," which helps immigrant day laborers. She says Long Island would do well to follow President Obama's decision to curb immigration enforcement for petty offenders, and that the recent deportation of one of her workers is just one sign of overzealous local enforcement.

"So for picking up cans in the woods, he was detained. For two months, he spent in prison before being deported. He's back in Honduras."

Amol Sinha, director of the Suffolk Chapter of the NYCLU, says fears about S-Com mean fewer local immigrants are reporting crimes, even as the federal program continues to scoop up the wrong people.

"In New York State, Long Island has the highest numbers as to people who are removed from the country, but the vast majority, over 80 percent, are either non-criminals or low-level offenders."

Today's press briefing at Hempstead District Court on the Secure Communities education campaign, set for 10 a.m., was planned prior to the ruling.

Deportation numbers are from the April 2012 ICE report: www.ice.gov.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY