Today’s the day… join us in Coming OUT Against the ICE “Secure Communities” Program. Queer people across the country are standing up to say that we don’t want ICE in our communities, that im/migration IS a queer issue, and that we want an end not just to police/immigration collaboration, but to raids and deportations.
See below or click here to read the statement that our friends at CUAV co-wrote with our new friends at Streetwise and Safe (who we met with in NYC during the Undoing Borders Tour) and NDLON, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Three SF PAW/ HAVOQ members will be attending a day-long strategy session about fighting S-COMM this Thursday, and hope to come back with lots of ideas about what we can all be doing to end this unpopular, damaging, and now involuntary program. For now, here’s what you can do:
1) Welcome the new White House LGBT Liaison Gautam Raghavan throughout October (LGBTQ History month) and ask him to Come OUT against S-Comm! You can reach him through the White House switchboard at: (202) 456-1414 or by emailing him here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
2) If you have stories of LGBTQ people being directly impacted by police/ICE collaboration, please let us know! You can email us at lgbt_scomm@streetwiseandsafe.
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.