Whatever the merits of the federal Secure Communities immigration program, it's clear that it has very serious problems. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to suspend the program in order to do less harm to public safety and to pursue actual justice is both prudent and timely. Gov. Cuomo is beginning to show real leadership on immigration, which is at the heart of state of our American church.
We need immigrants both as a church and as a country. In this initiative, Gov. Cuomo should be vocally and substantially supported by the New York State bishops and all people of goodwill. The simplistic notion that every non-documented person who commits felonies in the U.S. can be magically plucked off the streets of our cities and towns and by the clicking of the heels of the local police chief will be placed on a plane and sent to his or her home country is something that might work in former Gov. Sarah Palin's Alaska, but it does not happen as a matter of course in normal circumstances. It's much more complicated and nuanced. Gov. Cuomo gets it.
"There are concerns about the implementation of the program as well as its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York," Cuomo wrote in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security. "As a result, New York is suspending its participation in the program."
The state will review whether the program is meeting its stated goal of deporting convicted felons, according to a press release from the governor's office. "Based on evidence to date, it appears the program in New York is failing in this regard and is actually undermining law enforcement," the governor's office said.
Here's a link to the letter announcing the suspension from the program.