(Washington, DC) — On Friday, immigrant rights groups will physically serve a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on ICE headquarters to uncover the truth about the discontinuation of ICE’s failed Secure Communities deportation dragnet and the creation of the new “PEP” program, which is coming to be known as PEP-COMM because of its ominous similarities to its disgraced predecessor S-Comm.
This request for basic information about the PEP-COMM deportation program comes at a uniquely important time. Administrative relief offering work authorization for millions of immigrants remains temporarily postponed by a federal district court judge, Congress has now fully funded DHS to enforce demonstrably outdated and unjust laws, and President Obama’s own Task Force on Policing has called for a firewall between police and immigration functions. Against this backdrop, immigrant workers will call for transparency and accountability over ICE’s continued efforts to force local police into the immigration enforcement business.
“DHS has itself acknowledged the failure of Secure Communities, but this new program continues to entangle ICE with local police, leaving us with more questions than answers,” said Jessica Karp Bansal, Litigation Director at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “At a bare minimum, DHS is obligated by law to be transparent with the public about what PEP means for immigrants and their families.”
Angela Chan, senior staff attorney and policy director at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, a co-requester, stated, “The rollout of PEP-Comm contains many similarities to S-Comm. There has been little transparency in how the program will operate and no details as to even when it will go into effect. What we do know is that DHS has been engaging in the same roadshow to sell the program to local law enforcement as they did with S-Comm. Let’s hope that law enforcement has learned a lesson from the disastrous S-Comm program and refuse to take the bait this time.”
“The PEP program, like the flawed Secure Communities it purports to replace, will affect millions of people’s lives and freedom, but was announced with no public debate and DHS has released virtually no information about how it will operate,” said Esmeralda Daci of the Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law. “The Freedom of Information Act is a critical tool for the public to hold our government accountable for its actions and this request will allow the public to uncover the truth about PEP.”
In Washington, NDLON members will be joined by civil, labor, and immigrant rights organizations, including legal representative and co-requester, the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Cardozo Law School in New York. On the same day at 9AM PT, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus will lead a parallel action in San Francisco at the Women’s Building (3543 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94110).