News & Media
Astraea Endorses Grantee Partner Statement Against S-Comm Legislation
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Organizations "Come Out" Against ICE's "Secure Communities" Deportation Program
LGBTQ Immigrants At Risk of Deportation, Violence as a Result of Police/ICE Collaboration
Morgan Bassichis, CUAV (415) 777-5500 ext. 318
Andrea Ritchie, Streetwise & Safe (646) 831-1234
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Dozens of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) organizations across the country are adding their voices to the growing national movement to end ICE's controversial fingerprint-sharing "Secure Communities" (S-Comm) program. By forcing local law enforcement to share fingerprint data for every person arrested - no matter how valid or minor the charge - with federal immigration authorities, S-Comm has contributed to skyrocketing numbers of detentions and deportations.
Prompted by ICE's unilateral move to make the highly debated program mandatory, national, regional, and local LGBTQ organizations--including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)--felt compelled to mark National Coming Out Day by adding their voices to the national upsurge of opposition to S-Comm today.
"NCAVP is concerned by the impact of police/ICE collaboration on LGBTQ survivors of violence. It is not uncommon for LGBTQ survivors of violence to be arrested when they call police for help. NCAVP member programs know that many LGBTQ survivors do not access police for safety when they experience violence, and the Secure Communities program may increase fear, barriers to safety, and risk of detention and deportation for LGBTQ immigrant communities," said Chai Jindasurat, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) Coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. "In honor of this year's National Coming Out Day, NCAVP calls for an end to a program that has severe consequences for LGBTQ people."
In a statement released on National Coming Out Day, over sixty LGBTQ groups call on President Obama to take immediate action to eliminate this destructive program. California Assemblymember and longtime LGBTQ rights activist Tom Ammiano echoed this call: "Every day LGBTQ Californians are being unfairly deported leading to tragic consequences for communities both here and across the country. I am urging the Obama Administration to end the deception around S-Comm and suspend this damaging program."
"The LGBTQ movement has often been an example of how to hold your head high with pride in the face of discrimination. As migrants, we're inspired by National Coming Out Day and strengthened by this show of solidarity," said Sarahi Uribe, Organizer of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
"We hear regular reports of LGBTQ people who find themselves in deportation proceedings after being profiled by their race, class, sexuality, and gender as they go about their daily lives or even as they navigate domestic violence," said Morgan Bassichis of the San Francisco-based Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the country's oldest LGBTQ anti-violence organization. "Rather than making anyone more 'secure', S-Comm endangers all communities by tearing at the fabric of family and support networks and creating a culture of fear."
The statement marks a historic confluence of movements for LGBTQ rights and migrant rights, and increased attention to migrant issues within LGBTQ communities. "On this National Coming Out Day, we recognize that LGBTQ immigrants need more than acceptance from family, schools, and neighbors to be "out": they need to be free from profiling, detention, and deportation," said Mónica Enriquez-Enriquez of Streetwise and Safe, an organization working with LGBTQ youth of color in New York City and signatory to the statement.
For background information on the Secure Communities program, read "Restoring Community."
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 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
GROWING LIST OF ENDORSERS:
3rd Space, Phoenix, AZ
Ali Forney Center, New York, NY
API Equality - Northern California, San Francisco, CA
Best Practices Policy Project, Washington, DC
Black and Pink, National Office in Boston, MA
Black and Proud, Baton Rouge, 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
Different Avenues, Washington D.C.
El/La Program Para TransLatinas, San Francisco, CA
Equality Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA
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
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
Peter Cicchino Youth Project, New York, NY
Positive Force, Washington, DC
Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), San Francisco, CA
Queers for Economic Justice, New York, NY
Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), New York, NY
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
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 With a Vision, Inc., New Orleans, LA
Women's Health and Justice Initiative, New Orleans, LA
Women Organizing Women of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Women With a Vision, Inc., New Orleans, LA