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.
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.
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.
Several egregious examples of abuse of LGBT detainees, including sexual and physical assault, prolonged isolation, and withholding of medical care, have been documented in two reports this year.