We’re Coming Out Against the ICE Secure Communities Program

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Organizations Call for the Immediate Elimination of ICE’s “Secure Communities” Program

Dozens of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations across the country are adding their voices to the growing national movement to end Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) controversial fingerprint-sharing Secure Communities (S-Comm) program. By forcing local law enforcement to share fingerprint data for every person arrested — no matter how valid or minor the charge — with federal immigration authorities, S-Comm has contributed to skyrocketing numbers of detentions and deportations.

Prompted by ICE‘s unilateral move to make the highly debated program mandatory, national, regional, and local LGBTQ organizations—including One Colorado and partners such as the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) — felt compelled to mark National Coming Out Day by adding their voices to the national upsurge of opposition to S-Comm today.

LGBT immigrants — particularly LGBT youth of color, low-income LGBT people, and LGBT survivors of violence — are disproportionately impacted by S-Comm and all “ICE ACCESS” programs, a set of thirteen federal programs that create partnership between federal law enforcement and local, state, and tribal police and courts.

Because of widespread police profiling, selective enforcement, and poverty, LGBT immigrants come into high rates of contact with law enforcement, leading to a greater risk for deportation, now made even greater by programs such as S-Comm.

As LGBT leaders, activists, and community members, we call on President Obama to take decisive action to eliminate these destructive programs that target and have severe consequences for LGBT people, low-income people, immigrants, people of color, survivors of violence, and young people.

How S-Comm Harms LGBT Communities:

  • Police/ICE collaboration further endangers LGBT communities and all communities with less access to resources. All immigrants in this country struggle to find safe and secure housing, healthcare, employment, and education while living in fear of deportation. Immigrants who are LGBT are particularly vulnerable to detention and deportation because they are more likely to come into contact with law enforcement through police profiling and discriminatory enforcement of minor offenses, as well as through false or dual arrest when they attempt to survive or flee violence. Officials often use excessive force and coercion against LGBT people at the scene of arrest, including threats of deportation. Once in jail, prison, or immigration detention, LGBT people experience rampant and sometimes fatal sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, mirroring the abuse many face from partners, employers, and neighbors outside.
  • Police/ICE collaboration programs scapegoat LGBT immigrant communities and all marginalized groups of people by labeling them as “criminals.” LGBT communities like all marginalized communities face higher rates of poverty, violence, and unemployment. By labeling these communities “criminals,” S-Comm and other similar programs undermine the ability of communities and policymakers to create long-term solutions to these critical issues.
  • Deporting and increasing surveillance of people does not create safety. Removing people from their homes and communities breaks apart biological and chosen family, drains resources, and creates a culture of fear. In addition to anticipating anti-LGBT bias, the fear of being referred to ICE can discourage LGBTQ immigrants from accessing supportive services. Many LGBT people face strained relationships with their biological families, and depend on others in their community for support. S-Comm and other similar programs tear at the fabric of these life-saving networks. True safety comes from whole, fully-resourced communities where everyone has the support they need to thrive.
  • Complex problems require complex solutions. Programs like S-Comm distort and exacerbate the real problems communities face. For example, LGBT people often immigrate to the U.S. because of persecution and discrimination in their countries of origin. Upon finding similar discrimination in this country, LGBT people often turn to criminalized and underground economies to survive or are profiled or subjected to selective enforcement for minor offenses based on their sexual or gender non-conformity, leading to criminal charges and a greater risk of deportation under S-Comm and other similar programs. Instead of punishing people for their survival, we would be wise to address the underlying lack of economic and educational opportunity, destructive economic policies, and intergenerational legacies of trauma and bias that truly jeopardize our communities.

This program marks a historic confluence of movements for LGBTQ rights and migrant rights as well as increased attention to migrant issues within LGBTQ communities. On this National Coming Out Day, we recognize that LGBT immigrants need more than acceptance from family, schools, and neighbors to be out. They need to be free from profiling, detention, and deportation.

Growing List of Endorsers

  • Ali Forney Center, New York, NY
  • API Equality – Northern California, San Francisco, CA
  • Audre Lorde Project, New York, NY
  • Black and Pink, National Office in Boston, MA
  • Black and Proud, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Brown Boi Project, Oakland, CA
  • Capital City Alliance, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, NY
  • COLAGE, National Office in San Francisco, CA
  • Colorado Anti-Violence Program (CAVP), Denver, CO
  • Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, DC
  • Community United Against Violence (CUAV), San Francisco, CA
  • Different Avenues, Washington D.C.
  • El/La Program Para TransLatinas, San Francisco, CA
  • Equality Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Gay-Straight Alliance Network, San Francisco, CA
  • Gendercast, Seattle, WA
  • GetEQUAL, National
  • Gender JUST, Chicago, IL
  • GRIOT Circle Inc., Brooklyn, NY
  • Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, San Francisco, CA
  • Latino Commission on AIDS, New York, NY
  • Lavender Youth Recreation & Information Center (LYRIC), San Francisco, CA
  • The LGBTQ Project of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Louisiana Trans Advocates, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Make the Road New York, New York City & Suffolk County
  • Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), Boston, MA
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Office in San Francisco, CA
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), National Office in New York, NY
  • The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Office in Washington D.C.
  • The Network/La Red, Boston, MA
  • One Colorado, Colorado
  • Our Family Coalition, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Our4Immigration, National Based in San Francisco, CA
  • OUTlaw of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Peter Cicchino Youth Project, New York, NY
  • Positive Force, Washington, DC
  • Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), San Francisco, CA
  • Queers for Economic Justice, New York, NY
  • Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), New York, NY
  • Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) NYC, New York, NY
  • Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, New York, NY
  • Southerners On New Ground (SONG), Southern Regional
  • Spectrum LGBT Center, Marin County, CA
  • Streetwise & Safe (SAS), New York, NY
  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), New York, NY
  • Transformative Alliances LLC, Denver, CO
  • Transgender, Gender Variant, & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), San Francisco, CA
  • Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth, Inc. (TILTT), Atlanta, GA
  • Transgender Law Center (TLC), Statewide Office in San Francisco, CA
  • Trikone Northwest, Seattle, WA
  • Trinity Place Shelter, New York, NY
  • Women With a Vision, Inc., New Orleans, LA
  • Women’s Health and Justice Initiative, New Orleans, LA
  • Women Organizing Women of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Women With a Vision, Inc., New Orleans, LA