Immigrants protest public safety program

    Immigrant advocates are speaking out against a Department of Homeland Security program that officials say could improve public safety.

    Immigrant advocates are speaking out against a Department of Homeland Security program that officials say could improve public safety. Last month Philadelphia county joined 50 others as part of the “Secure Communities” initiative. Under the program, when local police in Philadelphia County submit a person’s fingerprints during the booking process, the computer system will automatically check the Department of Homeland Security’s databases for criminal convictions and immigration status.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090806lfimmigrants.mp3]

    Anne O’Callaghan is Executive Director of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. She says the program could pose a significant civil rights violation and undermine community policing efforts.

    O’Callaghan: Police depend on relationships with and cooperation from the community to solve crimes and people will be less likely to go to the police if they fear they or their family members will end up being detained or deported. Victims of domestic violence will hesitate to report abusers, and even witnesses to crimes.

    An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson says by 2012, ICE plans to have the initiative in place across the country.

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