A New Guantanamo in DC?

“We don’t want a Guantanamo in the Nation’s Capital” said Johnny Barnes, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area, before a packed audience during yesterday’s community dialogue at the University of the District of Columbia on the Secure Communities progra.m The controversial program, recently implemented by the Metropolitan Police Department without community consultation, runs the fingerprints of everyone arrested in the District of Columbia through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database. Although the program ostensibly seeks only to identify deportable immigrants and criminal aliens, “the reality is that the data is inaccurate and the process flawed,” explained Michele Weslin of the American Immigration Council. “Five percent of all hits have proven to be US citizens,” said Weslin, “Is this really a good use of taxpayer resources? Are mass deportations the solution?” The program will only further marginalize immigrants and deepen distrust towards the police, argued Ronald Hampton (l), Executive Director of the National Black Police Association. “If there was real community policing in DC, the community would have been consulted before the implementation of this program. By broadening the potential for racial profiling, Secure Communities will not only hurt Hispanics, it will hurt Blacks.” In North Carolina, the program has already had disastrous effects, according to the ACLU’s Rebecca Headen. “Checkpoints have been set up where immigrants live, racial profiling is rampant, families have been ripped apart, local magistrates hold suspects for longer than allowed.” Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security is actively promoting the program and hopes to implementing it in every jail in the country by 2013. “The Secure Community Program is nothing but 287 (g) with lipstick and I hope that everyone one of you will write, call and visit Councilmember Mendelson and Graham to ask them to stop this practice,” Barnes urged. The Metro Washington Counci of the AFL CIO passed a resolution in opposition to the Secure Communities Program at last week’s Council meeting.rn- report/photos by Ruth Castel-Branco, DC Jobs With Justicern

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