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NYC Secure Communities Bill Fails Transgender Immigrant Communities


Pooja Gehi:           (202) 491-7665
Tiloma Jayasinghe:  (917) 669-0696

NYC Secure Communities Bill Fails Transgender Immigrant Communities 

*December 13, 2012 New York, NY* – A coalition of anti-violence advocates
who work with immigrant survivors of family and intimate partner violence,
human trafficking, sexual assault, and survivors of homophobic and
transphobic violence in New York welcomed legislation introduced today by
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council members
Melissa Mark-Viverito and Daniel Dromm that would limit the application of
the federal Secure Communities Program in New York City, but emphasized
that more needs to be done to protect survivors of violence from
deportation resulting from collaboration between local law enforcement and
federal immigration authorities. The City’s proposal to refuse to honor ICE
holds— requests to turn over a detainee to immigration detention—in select
cases is an important step in acknowledging that there is no place for ICE
in our criminal justice system.

The activation of ICE’s “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) this past May—where
police send every arrestee’s fingerprints to immigration at booking to
allow for the rapid identification of potential deportees—has greatly
expanded the reach of immigration enforcement in New York. S-Comm severely
undermines community safety by fueling racial profiling, mistrust in the
police, and unjust deportations. The many stories of survivors facing
deportation speak to the dangers of the expanding collaboration between
local law enforcement and ICE (learn more from stories compiled by the
Anti-Violence Advocates, available at

“S-Comm is a serious threat. Survivors commonly end up in the criminal
justice system because abusers make false allegations against them, such as
assault and violations of orders of protection,” noted Tiloma Jayasinghe,
Executive Director of Sakhi for South Asian Women. “A survivor who faces
any time in incarceration risks the loss of custody of his or her children
to an abuser. The threat of deportation following arrest gives abusers
another tool of control to use against survivors."

“We are thankful for the City Council’s efforts to limit the City's
involvement in federal immigration enforcement, and are especially relieved
that those with past prostitution convictions will not be turned over to
ICE," said Sienna Baskin, Co-Director of The Sex Workers Project at the
Urban Justice Center.  "However, our clients, including survivors of
trafficking, are routinely targeted by police and convicted for a range of
crimes. This bill does not go far enough to protect vulnerable New Yorkers
from being deported before they can be identified and assisted.”

"While this bill offers some positive developments, much more needs to be
done to protect LGBT, and particularly transgender, immigrants from
deportation due to the hostile and punitive conditions they face daily and
while incarcerated,” said Pooja Gehi of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
“Police profile and target LGBT immigrants for arrest for a range of
offenses from lewd conduct to petty theft, obstruction of justice and
simple assault. LGBT, and particularly transgender, victims of violence are
all too often falsely arrested as perpetrators of violence. Unfortunately,
the legislation as it stands will not protect them if they have a prior
conviction for one of these offenses, which is the case for all too many
transgender New Yorkers.”

"The collaboration between ICE and police places non-citizens survivors at
an increased risk for violence. It makes it incredibly challenging for
advocates to advise non-citizen survivors about police involvement in
intimate partner violence situations due to the heightened risk of
deportation that now comes with an arrest," said Cecilia Gastón, Executive
Director of the Violence Intervention Project, Inc. “While we appreciate
this legislation as a positive step, the negative consequences of ICE’s
presence in our criminal justice system cannot be underestimated. We look
forward to working with the City Council on the next step—to remove ICE
completely to meaningfully protect non-citizen survivors of violence and
our vibrant immigrant communities.”


  1. Sample commentary post: Deportations Don’t Lower Crime Rates, Study Says | SOC320: Law, Society and Civil Rights - September 3, 2014

    […] and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities program. Recently, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project protested NYC’s participation in the program. A spokesperson noted the potential for the program to […]

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