New York state is now “safe” for illegal immigrants; Update: Add Massachusetts to the opt out list as well

Posted on June 2, 2011

New York state has now joined Illinois and San Francisco as a place where their illegal immigrant inhabitants are safe from the the “Secure Communities” program.  The program, which is “effectively mandatory,”  has been touted by both President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano as the way to catch the real bad guys who are in our country illegally and not punish the good illegal immigrants. 

Critics of the program claim it isn’t doing what it’s been advertised to do and, therefore, they’re pulling out:

New York (CNN) — New York is pulling out of a controversial federal program aimed at catching and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal histories, the state’s governor said Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is suspending the state’s participation in the program because of concerns about “its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York.”

Under the program, known as Secure Communities, law enforcement agencies run the fingerprints of people they arrest against immigration databases, aiming to find illegal immigrants.

Critics have said it results in deportations of immigrants who are in the United States illegally but have no criminal arrest record.

Cuomo described some of those criticisms in a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Wednesday.

“The heart of concern is that the program, conceived of as a method of targeting those who pose the greatest threat in our communities, is in fact having the opposite effect and compromising pubic safety by deterring witnesses to crime and others from working with law enforcement,” he wrote.

“Until the numerous questions and controversies regarding the program can be resolved, we have determined that New York is best served by relying on existing tools to ensure the safety of its residents,” he added.

With this announcement, Cuomo has effectively made New York into something of a “sanctuary state,” comparable to the city San Francisco, minus the S.F. Sheriff’s announcement that he’s going to release low-level illegal immigrant criminals even if the federal government requests they be held for an immigration hearing.  

As mentioned above, New York is not going to be the only state shielding its illegal immigrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.)  The  state of Illinois is also opting out of the supposed mandatory Secure Communities program because a large portion of those who have been deported “had no criminal convictions.”

Governor Quinn, in a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that runs the Secure Communities program, said the Illinois State Police were withdrawing because the program had not met the terms of a 2009 agreement with the state. Under that memorandum, the program’s purpose was to identify and deport immigrants “who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses.”


“Illinois signed up to help I.C.E. remove criminals convicted of serious crimes, but based on the statistics from I.C.E., that’s not what was happening,” said Brie Callahan, the governor’s spokeswoman.

Governor Quinn, a Democrat, suspended the program in November and entered negotiations with homeland security officials. Illinois officials decided to withdraw after concluding that the immigration agency’s operation of the program was “flawed,” the governor’s office said.

So, if you’re an illegal immigrant who’s afraid of being deported, rest assured that there are at least a few places in the United States where you won’t be held responsible for your immigration violation, at least for now.


Massachusetts has now decided to opt out of the Secure Communities program as well.