The federal government under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiated a program called Secure Communities (SC) and in 2006 ICE started a pilot program of SC in Boston.
Secure Communities is a program that allows state and local police to check the fingerprints of an individual they arrest against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration databases. The program, which is likely to be mandatory for all US States by 2013, is supposed to target the worst offenders and people who have committed national security crimes although current data indicates majority of those arrested have no criminal records or have minor offences.
The State is currently considering how SC will be implemented in MA and this has caused great concern among many communities, including the African community. In seeking to understand how the issue would affect our community and to voice the concerns we were receiving, members of T.A.C attended a community organizations, leaders & advocates meeting with State officials - Undersecretary of Forensic Science and Technology – John Grossman and Director of the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants - Richard Chacon.
During the aforementioned meeting, we learned that Massachusetts is yet to enter any agreement with the Federal government regarding SC implementation and that they would review data, which they have invited community participation in, from the SC pilot program in January 2011 as they consider how to move forward on the issue.
It is in this regard we are inviting you to be part of one of the urgent action meetings on either January 15th, 16th or 29th (RSVP and see below for more info) that will seek to provide more information, lend our voice to this discussion and help us outline our position as a community on this matter. We have also invited other community advocates and state officials to this meeting so that we can have a comprehensive and informed discussion on the matter.
T.A.C came into being in order to strengthen the African voice in Massachusetts and ensure that our voice was heard on issues that mattered and affected our community - Secure Communities is definitely such an issue. Unless we are involved in having a say on how SC is, or even if it should be, implemented in MA, we will be bear the consequences of a matter that affects us but one that we did not have a say in.
Make sure our voice counts! RSVP here for one of our meetings which will be held in Boston, Worcester and Lowell.
Thank you and we look forward to you being a part of strengthening the African voice in MA.
The African Council
January 15th, 2:00pm - 4:30pm: Waltham Public Library, 735 Main St, Waltham MA. 02451
January 16th, 3:00pm - 5:00pm: Worcester, (Location TBA)
January 29th, 3:00pm - 5:00pm: Lowell, (Location TBA)