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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Secured Communities Program

NSM members are currently working on and responding to the negative sentiment caused by the passage of the Secured Communities Program in the Philadelphia Region.

The Secured Communities Program allows communication between the Philadelphia Police force and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. This communication has increased ICE's ability to assert authority. For example, when an individual is booked by the Philadelphia police department their information is released to the ICE database. If an individual's name is matched ICE puts a detainer on them, the individual is then held in police custody and ICE picks them up. This process is not dependent on the individual being guilty, innocent, a victim of a crime, or a witness. Additionally ICE has access to the Philadelphia Arrest and Recording System (PARS) which allows them to search through the police system and allows them to subjectively investigate anyone based upon their name. This program has had a number of negative effects on the immigrant community in Philadelphia by increasing targeted police/ICE profiling, which has led to a fear of police officials and rising anti-immigrant sentiments.

In response to Secured Communities, Philadelphia NSM has partnered with JUNTOS and Philadelphia Storytelling Project to organize affected immigrant groups around Philadelphia. Communities are coming together to express their experiences with this collaboration and their new fears to contact police for help in times of actual need. Through the use of storytelling, the goal is to stop the collaboration between ICE and Police officials.

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Philadelphia NSM and related immigration events