Rawlings-Blake Opposes New Immigration Enforcement Program

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Despite protests from city leaders nationwide, a controversial immigration enforcement program comes to Baltimore.  It started Tuesday and Baltimore’s mayor is speaking out against it. 

Gigi Barnett has more.

Right across the street from Baltimore’s Central Booking was a rally to block a controversial jail-based deportment program.

“We are going backwards instead of forwards in our country if this is the way it’s going to be,” said Lisa O’Reilly, proteter.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also called ICE, launched its Secure Communities program this week. It requires local police officers and prison guards to share all fingerprints of arrestees with the FBI. The FBI then gives that information over to ICE, which uses the prints to track and later deport undocumented immigrants. Baltimore’s Central Booking is where the process starts because everyone who’s arrested stops there first.

“It opens the door for racial profiling and civil rights abuses. People are charged with very minor crimes,” said Elizabeth Alex, Casa de Maryland.

Members of Casa de Maryland, a civil rights group for Hispanics, says it makes their community anything but secure because the fear of deportation will overshadow the need to build strong relationships with police.

“This is Baltimore City. The people, they’re going to be afraid, `I will get arrested,'” said Esteban Guevara, a legal immigrant.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined the ranks of city leaders nationwide who are speaking out against Secure Communities. In a written statement, she said, “We recognize that the city of Baltimore plays no role in the implementation of the program and that I have no control over ICE’s actions. However, I am extremely disheartened by this recent decision to implement the program in Baltimore and the manner in which it is being carried out.”

The “Secure Communities” program is in 1,500 cities and counties nationwide.

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