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- 05-22-2012, 12:06 PM #1
Amherst MA. to opt out of Secure Communities law
Amherst to opt out of Secure Communities law
Resolution to opt out of immigration law passed
Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 11:04 AM EDT
Published : Monday, 21 May 2012, 11:22 PM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - With a nearly unanimous vote at Monday’s town meeting, the Town of Amherst decided to opt out of the controversial Secure Communities Program.
Secure Communities is a program designed by the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on illegal immigrants who commit crimes, as well as those who continually violate immigration laws. By passing Article 29, Amherst residents chose not to participate.
Through the resolution, community members said that they wanted to make sure local law enforcement agencies could not stop anyone randomly just to check their immigration status.
Amherst's resolution specifically states, "Municipal employees of the Town of Amherst, including law enforcement employees, shall not monitor, stop, detain, question, interrogate or search a person for the purpose of determining that individual's immigration status."
“ Officers shall not inquire about the immigration status of any crime victim, witness or suspect unless such information is directly relevant to the investigation.”
Ross Feinstein, a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) insists that the program would not result in people randomly being checked for immigration status. Instead, the FBI would simply share fingerprint information with ICE, in order to identify individuals in the country illegally who present the greatest threat to public safety. The program would not have local law enforcement make any changes.
An April 27th ICE report says, "Secure Communities is mandatory in that, once the information-sharing capability is activated for a jurisdiction, the fingerprints that state and local law enforcement voluntarily submit to the FBI for criminal justice purposes to be checked against the Department of Justice's biometric identification system for criminal history records, are automatically sent to Department of Homeland Security’s biometric system to check against its immigration and law enforcement records."
Still, many Amherst residents told 22News that they supported the resolution because they were afraid Secure Communities would lead to racial profiling.
Falguni Sheth, who lives in Amherst and teaches national security at Hampshire College, told 22News, “A good number of U.S. citizens have been deported, which is hard to believe. This is quite heart stopping and deathly. It can break apart families, and these are irreparable consequences.”
Selva Cejic of Amherst, who immigrated to the United States from former Yugoslavia said, “I think law should be equal for all of us. It doesn't matter what color skin you have.”
Amherst resident Linda Stenlund told 22News, “People have their right to pursue education, pursue work, pursue good life and not be necessarily checked by police.
Scott Livingstone, Amherst's Police Chief, said that he got involved because he didn't want people to be afraid of police officers because of this federal policy.
“We are really here to help them,” he said. “Have them feel comfortable and confident to come to us with any issues they may have.”
Livingstone also explained, the policy that his department follows already is very similar to what’s outlined in the resolution.
Other town meeting members said they think Secure Communities violates the town's human rights bylaw, and they said, that is why they voted to pass the resolution.
Amherst to opt out of Secure Communities law | WWLP.comNO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP