Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel Statement: Government's decision is "severe threat to civil rights in our nation"

LOS ANGELES, CA - Today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced changes to the Secure Communities program, unilaterally abrogating all agreements with states, and indicating that the program will be imposed in all states, regardless of any state officials' desire to opt out of the program.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, issued the following statement in response to today's announcement by the federal government on Secure Communities:

"The federal government's decision to abrogate existing agreements with states on Secure Communities -- a fatally flawed program that has proven to accomplish little other than splitting apart families and undermining cooperation with law enforcement -- is a severe threat to civil rights in our nation. The government's unilateral action is suspiciously timed, a clear response to numerous state leaders who have openly expressed serious doubts about and strong opposition to continued involvement with Secure Communities based on experience with the program's disruption of community and economy. While the abrogation purports to restrict states' ability to avert some of the worst aspects of Secure Communities by modifying their agreements or ceasing to participate in the program, this unprecedented step simply further delegitimizes the Secure Communities program. The only suitable approach at this point is to end Secure Communities."

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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