Governor Cuomo announced that New York State will suspend participation in the federal Secure Communities Program to review the mounting evidence that the program is not meeting its stated goal and has serious consequences for witnesses, victims of crime and law enforcement.
The goal as stated by the federal government was to deport serious felons, and, based on evidence to date, it appears the program in New York is failing in this regard and is actually undermining law enforcement. Because of similar concerns, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is investigating the program.
"There are concerns about the implementation of the program as well as its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York," Governor Cuomo said. "As a result, New York is suspending its participation in the program."
In a letter to DHS, Governor Cuomo's administration stated that information produced thus far has called into question – at both the federal and state levels – the implementation and intended effect of the Secure Communities program.
Governor Cuomo's office has also received complaints stating that the goals of the program were not being met. The questions raised are further aggravated by inconsistent statements by DHS and a failure to disclose basic information about the program.
Congressman Jose E. Serrano said, "Governor Cuomo has taken a brave and necessary step in suspending New York State's participation in the flawed 'Secure Communities' program, and he deserves great praise. He is firmly in line with our state's pro-immigrant tradition and on behalf of the immigrants and their friends in our community, I would like to thank him. Having New York State pull back from this unfair and aggressive program should be a wake-up call to the Department of Homeland Security. It is time to end this program and I am glad my home state will no longer take part."
Thomas H. Mungeer, President of the New York State Police Benevolent Association, said, "We support Governor Cuomo's action today in suspending Secure Communities until the numerous questions, including a federal Inspector General's investigation, can be resolved. Police rely upon a partnership with the communities that they serve to ensure the public safety of us all. The questions that have surrounded the implementation of Secure Communities drives a wedge between law enforcement and the people they are sworn to protect. We are confident that the procedures we currently use and the strong relationships we currently have with federal, state and local authorities will ensure that we can keep our communities safe while also maintaining our relationship of trust."