Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Organizations Call for the Immediate Elimination of ICE’s “Secure Communities” Program
On August 5, 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton informed governors that ICE would terminate all agreements with states to implement its controversial fingerprint-sharing “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) program, despite previously saying that states and counties could opt-out or modify that agreement. This announcement came as a result of powerful community mobilization throughout the country to challenge S-Comm and expose the harmful consequences of police/ICE collaboration.
LGBTQ immigrants–particularly LGBTQ youth of color, low-income LGBTQ people, and LGBTQ survivors of violence–are disproportionately impacted by S-Comm and all “ICE ACCESS” programs, a set of thirteen federal programs that create partnership between federal law enforcement and local, state, and tribal police and courts.
Because of widespread police profiling, selective enforcement, and poverty, LGBTQ immigrants come into high rates of contact with law enforcement, leading to a greater risk for deportation, now made even greater by programs such as S-Comm. Unfortunately, these programs are only the first steps in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) biometric-sharing “Next Generation Identification” (NGI), a massive searchable database of palm print, fingerprint, and iris scans as well as scar, mark, tattoo, and facial recognition that will be accessible across federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.
As LGBTQ leaders, activists, and community members, we call on President Obama to take decisive action to eliminate these destructive programs that target and have severe consequences for LGBTQ people, low-income people, immigrants, people of color, survivors of violence, and young people.
How S-Comm Harms LGBTQ Communities:
- Police/ICE collaboration further endangers LGBTQ communities and all communities with less access to resources. All immigrants in this country struggle to find safe and secure housing, healthcare, employment, and education while living in fear of deportation. Immigrants who are LGBTQ are particularly vulnerable to detention and deportation because they are more likely to come into contact with law enforcement through police profiling and discriminatory enforcement of minor offenses, as well as through false or dual arrest when they attempt to survive or flee violence. Officials often use excessive force and coercion against LGBTQ people at the scene of arrest, including threats of deportation. Once in jail, prison, or immigration detention, LGBTQ people experience rampant and sometimes fatal sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, mirroring the abuse many face from partners, employers, and neighbors outside.
- Police/ICE collaboration programs scapegoat LGBTQ immigrant communities and all marginalized groups of people by labeling them as “criminals.” LGBTQ communities like all marginalized communities face higher rates of poverty, violence, and unemployment. By labeling these communities “criminals,” S-Comm and other similar programs undermine the ability of communities and policymakers to create long-term solutions to these critical issues.
- Deporting and increasing surveillance of people does not create safety. Removing people from their homes and communities breaks apart biological and chosen family, drains resources, and creates a culture of fear. In addition to anticipating anti-LGBTQ bias, the fear of being referred to ICE can discourage LGBTQ immigrants from accessing supportive services. Many LGBTQ people face strained relationships with their biological families, and depend on others in their community for support. S-Comm and other similar programs tear at the fabric of these life-saving networks. True safety comes from whole, fully-resourced communities where everyone has the support they need to thrive.
- Complex problems require complex solutions. Programs like S-Comm distort and exacerbate the real problems communities face. For example, LGBTQ people often immigrate to the U.S. because of persecution and discrimination in their countries of origin. Upon finding similar discrimination in this country, LGBTQ people often turn to criminalized and underground economies to survive or are profiled or subjected to selective enforcement for minor offenses based on their sexual or gender non-conformity, leading to criminal charges and a greater risk of deportation under S-Comm and other similar programs. Instead of punishing people for their survival, we would be wise to address the underlying lack of economic and educational opportunity, destructive economic policies, and intergenerational legacies of trauma and bias that truly jeopardize our communities.
For these reasons and more, we invite LGBTQ leaders, organizations, and elected officials to join in this critical opportunity to defend the dignity and well-being of our most vulnerable community members and urge President Obama to immediately eliminate S-Comm and all police/ICE collaboration. Click here to endorse this statement.
Please see the 2010 National Report on Anti-LGBT Hate Violence for stories and statistics documenting LGBTQ interactions with law enforcement. If you or someone you know would like to share your experience being impacted by S-Comm or challenging the program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 777-5500 x318.
GROWING LIST OF ENDORSERS:
3rd Space, Phoenix, AZ
AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Ali Forney Center, New York, NY
An American Rainbow Foundation, Boulder, Co
API Equality – Northern California, San Francisco, CA
Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, San Francisco, CA
Astraea Lesbians Foundation for Justice, New York, NY
Audre Lorde Project, New York, NY
Beloit College DREAMers, Beoit, WI
Best Practices Policy Project, Washington, DC
Black and Pink, National Office in Boston, MA
Black and Proud, Baton Rouge, LA
BreakOUT!, New Orleans, LA
Brown Boi Project, Oakland, CA
Capital City Alliance, Baton Rouge, LA
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, NY
COLAGE, National Office in San Francisco, CA
Colorado Anti-Violence Program (CAVP), Denver, CO
Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, DC
Community United Against Violence (CUAV), San Francisco, CA
Desiree Alliance, National
Different Avenues, Washington D.C.
El/La Program Para TransLatinas, San Francisco, CA
Equality Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA
FIERCE, New York City, NY
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY), New York, NY
Gay-Straight Alliance Network, San Francisco, CA
Gendercast, Seattle, WA
Gender JUST, Chicago, IL
GRIOT Circle Inc., Brooklyn, NY
Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, San Francisco, CA
HAVOQ/San Francisco Pride at Work, San Francisco, CA
Latino Commission on AIDS, New York, NY
Lavender Youth Recreation & Information Center (LYRIC), San Francisco, CA
The LGBTQ Project of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana Trans Advocates, Baton Rouge, LA
Make the Road New York, New York City & Suffolk County
Mangos With Chili, Oakland, CA
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), Boston, MA
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Office in San Francisco, CA
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), National Office in New York, NY
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Office in Washington D.C.
The Network/La Red, Boston, MA
One Colorado, Colorado State
Our Family Coalition, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Our4Immigration, National Based in San Francisco, CA
OUTlaw of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Out Now, Springfield, MA
Peter Cicchino Youth Project, New York, NY
Positive Force, Washington, DC
Queer Asian Women & Transgender Support Program of Asian Women’s Shelter, San Francisco, CA
Queer Latina Network, Santa Cruz, CA
Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), San Francisco, CA
Queers for Economic Justice, New York, NY
Rev. Dr. Michael Tino, Mount Kisco, NY
Rev. Lynn Gardner, Auburn, CA
San Francisco Trans March, San Francisco, CA
Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), New York, NY
Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Denver, Denver, CO
Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) NYC, New York, NY
Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, New York, NY
Southerners On New Ground (SONG), Southern Regional
Spectrum LGBT Center, Marin County, CA
Streetwise & Safe (SAS), New York, NY
Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), New York, NY
Thrive Social Justice, Oakland, CA
Transformative Alliances LLC, Denver, CO
Transgender, Gender Variant, & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), San Francisco, CA
Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth, Inc. (TILTT), Atlanta, GA
Transgender Law Center (TLC), Statewide Office in San Francisco, CA
Trikone Northwest, Seattle, WA
Trinity Place Shelter, New York, NY
Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent (WOMAN Inc.), San Francisco, CA
Women Organizing Women of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Women With a Vision, Inc., New Orleans, LA
Women’s Health and Justice Initiative, New Orleans, LA