Dozens of immigration activists gathered today at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles to protest the federal deportation program "Secure Communities." (August 15, 2011)
About 50 demonstrators today gathered at a church near downtown Los Angeles to protest a federal deportation program.
Immigrants, clergy members and others spoke in English and Spanish as they called for the Obama administration to end the "Secure Communities" program, or "S-Comm" for short. Protesters criticized S-Comm as unfair to many law-abiding immigrants.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) runs the program. Federal officials say their mission is to identify and help deport illegal immigrants who commit serious felonies.
But protesters say instead, thousands of California immigrants with no criminal histories have been deported under S-Comm in recent years. Critics of the program also emphasize that S-Comm dissuades people who need police help, such as domestic violence victims, from calling 911, afraid they'll get kicked out of the country.
Under the program, law enforcement sends ICE the fingerprints of everyone booked into local jails. The Department of Homeland Security will hold an L.A. community hearing on the issue this evening.