(bw news) STOCKTON- On January 17, the car on which the 20 year old Jonathan Sanchez was a passenger, was stopped by police for failing to do a complete stop. The police continue and checked the four passengers in the car.
Sanchez was arrested that day for a prior charge for which he had already fulfilled by doing community service back in 2008. After going before a Juvenile Court, the judge released him and requested proof of his community service.
But the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed an immigration hold on Sanchez.
Because the San Joaquin County jail is linked to ICE through the federal program Secure Communities (S-Comm), Sanchez’s fingerprints revealed his immigration status and imposed an order to be deported to Mexico.
At his short age Sanchez is a dance instructor for the ballet Folklorico Santa Maria in Stockton, “I have three different groups and over 50 students,”said Sanchez. His involvement with the community sparked a campaign demanding his prompt release.
The pressure forced ICE to release Sanchez on a $3,000 bond.
“I spent over a week in jail, I know that there is people out there being deported that don’t have the same support that I was blessed with,” said Sanchez.
Under Secure Communities, the state and local police check the fingerprints of an individual booked into jail against the immigration databases of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to target dangerous criminals. If there is a “hit” in the database, ICE is automatically notified.
According to pro-immigrant groups S-Comm encourages racial profiling, deports immigrants with minor offenses. Separates families and makes immigrants fearful of reporting crime because of the idea that police is collaborating with immigration.
Luis Magaña, a local organizer of American Friends Services Committee and one also advocate for the released of Sanchez’s, works along other Stockton community members like Gerardo Serrano and Teresa Martinez to educate the community about their rights.
“We are promoting this campaign against Secure Communities and the Electronic Verification,” said Magaña. “We are also working with Rep. Tom Ammiano who has introduced a law allowing counties to opt out the program.”
Assembly member, Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) sponsored the Assembly Bill 1081, which is currently being debated in the state`s senate.
And this dedicated group of activist is not alone; protests, sit-ins and a growing number of state officials such as the Democrat governors from Massachusetts, Illinois and New York announced that they want to pull out of the program and are asking Obama to put an end the program.
However on August 5, the Director of S-Comm, John Morton, announced that the program is planning to be extended to the 3,100 jails across the country by 2013.
Catherine Tactaquin, Executive Director of National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Right, called the announcement, “a slap in the face to immigrant community, advocates and elected officials, who have raised concerns about the increase in racial profiling, prolonged detention, and traumatic deportations due to Secure Communities,” stated Tactaquin a press release after the announcement of Mr. Morton.
Moreover after hitting a record of 1 million deportations, the Obama administration announced on August 18th a change to the deportation policy.The new policy benefits DREAM Act-eligible students and other individuals who are in the deportation process.
- Secure Communities (bwnews.us)