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Minnesotans protest Secure Communities deportation program

by staff |
February 19, 2012
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Protest against "Secure Communities" deportation program, Feb. 18, 2012
Protest against "Secure Communities" deportation program, Feb. 18, 2012 in Minneapolis. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Protest against "Secure Communities" deportation program, Feb. 18, 2012
Protest against "Secure Communities" deportation program, Feb. 18, 2012 in Minneapolis

Minneapolis, MN - On February 18 more than 50 immigrants and supporters protested against a new deportation program imposed in Minnesota. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) imposed the controversial “Secure Communities” deportation program in all 87 Minnesota counties on February 7. The protesters gathered at People’s Plaza in downtown Minneapolis to denounce the program and call for an end to deportations. Over a million people have been deported in the last three years leaving massive numbers of separated children and families, largely as a result of deportation programs like Secure Communities.

The Minneapolis protest was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc). The first speaker at the rally was Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who encouraged activists to continue to press to end Secure Communities and also spoke against the state legislature’s cuts to emergency medical assistance for immigrants. Susana De Leon of the National Lawyers Guild spoke about the effect of deportation programs like Secure Communities on the community and encouraged people to continue to organize to stop this program at the national level and county-by-county. Isaac Martin of MIRAc encouraged people to get invovled in MIRAc’s No More Deportations campaign which aims to stop Secure Communities and other ICE deportation programs in Minnesota such as the Criminal Alien Program.

After the speakers, the group marched across the street to the Hennepin County Detention Center, which is one of the jails where Secure Communities is now implemented. Protesters chanted and spoke out against Hennepin County Sheriff Stanek, who is in charge of the jail and pushed hard to get Minnesota to participate in Secure Communities. Immigrant rights activists are pushing for county sheriffs and county boards to stop cooperating with ICE’s requests to local jails to detain people for extra time (at the county’s cost) that ICE wants to take away for deportation, even after the local jail would have otherwise released them. Several counties across the country, including Santa Clara, CA, Cook County, IL and Washington DC, are now refusing to honor such ICE hold requests as a way to counteract jail-based deportation programs like Secure Communities that ICE has imposed on counties that don’t want to participate.