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.
In June, PHR blogged about its concerns that the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) “enhancements” to its controversial Secure Communities (S-Comm) program were merely cosmetic and would do nothing to protect people who are unfairly swept up in its overly broad net. Now, it seems that those concerns are well-founded.
In the last week, two different federal courts have demonstrated a commitment to accountability for torture perpetrated by U.S. officials.