Yesterday’s announcement from the Obama administration that “prosecutorial discretion” should be used to allow undocumented students to stay in the US, and that enforcement efforts should instead focus on deportation of criminals, is little more than a public relations smokescreen. Ever since the Administration confirmed that states may no longer opt out of Secure Communities, advocates have come down hard on President Obama for failing to live up to promises made to immigrant communities in the US.
Did a psychologist violate his professional ethics when he developed abusive interrogation techniques for use on Guantanamo Bay detainees? Last week, a New York state court dismissed a petition which would have forced the New York Office of Professional Discipline to answer that question.
Although the explicit goal of Secure Communities is to improve public safety by increasing deportations of undocumented criminals, in practice the program catches many non-criminals in its net and can actually decrease public safety by eroding trust between immigrants and local police. Mistrust between police and immigrant communities can lead to underreporting of crimes, leaving these communities vulnerable to violence and impairing officers’ ability to investigate and solve crimes.
Recently the Obama Administration unveiled landmark legislation which has the potential to strengthen how the US deals with the prevention of mass atrocities and serious human rights violations. The inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board (PSD-10) aims to close existing gaps in US law and provide new economic, diplomatic, and political deterrents to ensure that the US responds swiftly and unequivocally to all manner of human rights violators.
A June 16 decision filed by the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit (comprised of DE, NJ, and PA) offered a ray of hope to asylum seekers facing the daunting and ambiguous “national security bar.” The decision prevented the deportation of two Uzbek men and likely saved their lives. On a larger scale, the decision is a step forward for all those seeking asylum from torture who would otherwise be barred because of tenuous national security concerns.