Governor of New York suspends "Secure Communities" program

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that his state would suspend its participation in the Secure Communities. The governor's office sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notifying them that due to numerous complaints and concern for the welfare and safety of residents of their state, New York is withdrawing from the program.

The letter notes that the original goal of the program was to track down criminals, but that "in fact, it is having the opposite effect and is affecting public safety by deterring witnesses to crimes and others from cooperating with law enforcement." He further states that "the administration takes very seriously not only its obligation to keep New York residents safe, but also their confidence in the integrity of government."

Under the terms of the program, when a person is arrested, they automatically check their fingerprints against both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases to verify the person's legal status and find undocumented immigrants. If the fingerprints match any within the DHS biometric system, ICE is notified to process the person under immigration law.

The program, initiated in 2008 by the administration of President George W. Bush, is being more vigorously enforced by the administration of President Barack Obama.