ENRIQUEZ: Defining secure communities

The first scare came in December. I received news from City Hall that the Secure Communities Act was to be implemented in New Haven. I broke into a cold sweat as I considered the implications of the act.

Secure Communities is an act passed by the federal government in October 2008, set to go live state-by-state across the United States by 2013. The bill includes provisions to merge local police databases with background checks run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Everyone whose profile is filed in local police stations will have her immigration status checked through ICE’s database. Ideally, the bill is supposed to target people with criminal records who live in the United States illegally, but in practice this bill does not secure our communities.

One of the victims of Secure Communities was a friend of mine who lived in a city where the act was enforced. He was a student finishing high school. He was driving too fast one day, and his back taillight was out. He was pulled over by a cop. He argued with the policeman and was taken in to the police station. From there, his profile was entered into the computer. His name was flagged, so the police had to detain him. He was deported.

Imagine a world where people you grew up with, friends who mentored you, your co-workers and other Yale students are afraid to leave campus — not because they look at this week’s crime rates or because they have not explored the city before, but because simply encountering a policeman on the street could mean deportation and a radical change in their futures.

Imagine a world where you cannot go home to visit your family less than two hours away because getting on a train could mean being subjected to a random search and detention by an ICE officer.

Do you feel comfortable knowing that other students, some living in your dorm or studying in your classes, are afraid to talk to anyone about family members who have been detained? Do you feel comfortable knowing that these people have to worry about where they will go over winter break, since home isn’t an option for fear of detention en route?

To many of us, the police may look like symbols of order and safety. Under the previsions of this bill, immigrants are encouraged to fear and avoid the police force by going underground in society. This means that when an immigrant is robbed or becomes the victim of a crime, she is less likely to report it. All efforts to improve relationships between the local immigrant community and the police force will be cast aside, and we compromise the security of our community. This is not a risk I support. We are asking for crimes against immigrants to go unreported.

Community organizers and government officials alike refer to the last time ICE conducted raids in New Haven. Houses in Fair Haven were raided; children disappeared from schools, businesses stayed closed and workers stayed home from their jobs. New Haven is still rebuilding the trust in our community that was lost as a result of these raids.

Those raids weren’t specifically tied to Secure Communities, but they are also the result of federal interference in the way Connecticut handles its immigration policy. Connecticut has shown in other ways that its policy on immigration is more lenient than that of other states. For example, Connecticut’s labor policy requires employers to respect contracts regardless of a worker’s immigration status.

Does a community that encourages vigilantes to report anyone they suspect might be an undocumented immigrant — despite the hours of work that immigrants put in every day, the families they raise and put through school and the taxes they pay under false Social Security numbers — sound like a secure community?

The act originally stipulated that cities could opt out of enforcement. But too many cities opted out. Now, all states will be required to implement the act’s provisions on a staggered timeline. In December, Connecticut received the go-ahead.

In most of the country, police departments support Secure Communities. But in New Haven, both citizens and public officials rallied around the immigrant community. I hope Connecticut will follow Massachusetts, Illinois and New York in refusing to enforce the federal act.

As Secure Communities rolls out in Connecticut, ask yourself, is this really building a secure community?

Diana Enriquez is a junior in Saybrook College. Contact her at diana.enriquez@yale.edu.


  • The Anti-Yale


    Give me your tired, your poor, your hungry masses, and I will put them in jail unless they kiss my green card asses.


  • River_Tam

    I’d like to know what Ms. Enriquez’s specific policy objective is:

    Is it:

    A) Open the borders and allow free movement of people in and out of the country?

    B) Secure the border but do nothing about enforcing legal regulations if the immigrant manages to get into the US?

    C) Firewall off the INS (sorry, ICE now) and say that they may be allowed to deport people, but that they shall get no help from local, state, and federal agencies?

    D) Require that employers verify legal residency/citizenship before employing someone, with large penalties to employers who do not?

    Which one is it?

    (Hint: A “guest worker program” doesn’t actually solve the problem because 1. people will still illegally immigrate so that they can remain in the US permanently, 2. a guest worker program will make it easier for them to do so because it will necessarily weaken border control, and 3. a “guest worker program” is tantamount to institutionalized indentured servitude of the Mexican working class.)

    So, I’d like to know what Ms. Enriquez would have the US do.

    • grumpyalum

      Make legal immigration easy. Make it unlimited. Make it so that 95% of the people want to enter legally because they have no reason to want to avoid doing it. Then you can do SComm and deport all the criminals that we catch whose residency status was gained illegaly, simply because they already had prior criminal records.

      • River_Tam

        *”Make legal imigration easy. Make it unlimited.”*

        There are about a million legal immigrants to the US each year, which is a mere fraction of the total number of applicants, which is even LOWER than the total number of people who actually want to come to the US each year (a lot of people don’t apply because diversity visas are so low).

        So, you’re committing to admitting 12 million+ people into the US/year.

        This would make the US the fastest growing population in the world, and it would also mean an inevitable demographic collapse. It would also mean the collapse of the social welfare system (hint: poor immigrants consume more social services than they pay for in taxes) in the US.

        TLDR: You haven’t really thought about this.

  • The Anti-Yale

    No services until you obtain legal status, EXCEPT emergency room.

    • River_Tam

      It’s a nice thought, PK, but what about child services? What about food stamps, where the issue is not YOU starving, but your child starving? What about checkups for your newborn?

      These are humanitarian issues that we are compelled as human beings to address, and this is why we have to prevent illegal immigration in the first place.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I guess I’m naive. What about churches? Food pantries?
    Check-ups? How did babies survive from 1680-1900 without check-ups? This culture is OBSESSED with medical interventions. I was two months premature and I never had “check-ups’? Maybe once a year my brother and I went for a physical. That was it.
    of course, back then there was no junk food, no additives, no prefabricated food.

    Somehow, my brother and I managed to survive with mumps, chicken pox, measles, broken bones here and there. But never any “check-ups.”


    Oh—-and then there was Polio vaccine. And the world of parenting breathed a sigh of relief.

    Even now, I only go to the doctor twice a year, for about 20 minutes each time. Of course, my doctor is literally the author of *”Bag Balm and Duct Tape; Tales of a Vermont Doctor”*

    • River_Tam

      > Somehow, my brother and I managed to survive with mumps, chicken pox, measles, broken bones here and there. But never any “check-ups.”

      500 children around the world die every day from measles. I have aunts and uncles who died from it.

      You got lucky.

    • River_Tam

      > I guess I’m naive. What about churches? Food pantries?

      I’m in favor of those replacing pretty much *all* our social programs. But if we agree to have social programs like food stamps and welfare on the basis of fluffy moral grounds (eg: it’s immoral to let people starve), we start to feel a moral compulsion to extend them to everyone, not just people who are legally in this country.

      • Robbie

        Ooh, the quotes are all blue and stuff now. Nice.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I’m a half-assed Ron Pauler: Abolish the bureaucracy and give EVERYONE with poverty wages or no wages free health care and free food stamps.

    • River_Tam

      What about people who have wealth but no income? How do you prove your wage level? The IRS spends a lot of money to figure that out.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Unless you keep your wealth in a sock under the bed, it is inferable from bank-interest.

    • River_Tam

      Okay, so I keep my wealth in a sock under my bed. Now what?

  • The Anti-Yale

    My Aunt Bertha (Logan) ran a rooming house in 1950 at Orange and Humphrey Streets.

    One of her roomers was a woman named “Daisy”, in her eighties.

    Daisy became bedridden and when she went to look for her life savings which she kept in a shoebox under her bed—— it was gone.


    • River_Tam

      I blame Goldman Sachs.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I blame Goldfilled box.

  • connman250

    Terrorist organizations knew many years ago, how to take advantage of our lax security, here in the United States, thus 9/11 happened. Many of those people were US citizens, who went to schools and mosque, and being the freedom loving people we are, no one suspected any wrongdoing from them. Times have changed, so the authorities have to be aware of anyone who enters our country with bad intentions. But, it is a good thing to keep an eye out for any authority that oversteps it’s bounds.