Isaura Garcia, a battered woman and legal immigrant, called 911 after her boyfriend beat her up. The cops believed her boyfriend's version of the story (despite bruises and other signs recorded at the hospital after she fainted). Because she was arrested, she faces deportation under the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's "Secure Communities" program:
"The dangerous message that Isaura's case sends to immigrants who are victims or witnesses to crimes is that if you call the police, you might be deported," Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said during this morning's press conference.
Garcia was snared thanks to Secure Communities, the Department of Homeland Security program that requires local police departments to share the fingerprints of arrestees with immigration authorities. While the intention of the program is to identify and deport criminal aliens, in practice it has not always worked out that way for Garcia and other non-criminals, according to Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU-SC. "Secure Communities ends up providing security to criminals, including perpetrators of domestic violence," he said today. "This couldn't possibly make our communities more secure."
Garcia echoed those sentiments to those gathered before her. "I still don't understand why I was arrested," she said, "but had I realized I could be arrested after calling 9-1-1 for help and deported, I never would have called…"
Illinois has announced its desire to opt out of the federal program, while San Francisco Police Chief Michael Hennessy recently revealed his department will not turn over non-criminals and low-level offenders to immigration authorities identified through Secure Communities.