Footnote on SCOMM: Termination vs. Opt-Out

Here is an interesting footnote in the ongoing debate over whether local jurisdictions can opt-out of Secure Communities once their state has entered into an agreement with ICE: Many of the Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) include a paragraph that clarifies how the state can terminate the contract.

This is the paragraph in the MOA signed by ICE and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS):

Right after this paragraph on page 6, comes a description of how to suspend Secure Communities:

Similar language is found in MOAs with other states. The hitch for local jurisdictions that want to opt-out is that it seems limited to a decision at the state level.

But it could play a role in New York, where an MOA was signed in May 2009, and New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez plans to introduce a resolution in early November that asks Governor David Paterson to rescind the agreement.

The actual signatory to New York’s MOA is Sean M. Byrne, who was appointed Acting Commissioner of the DCJS by Paterson in February 2010 and is subject to the governor’s authority.

Paterson showed his discomfort with the intersection of ICE and the criminal justice system when he launched a pardon panel in May to review cases of immigrants who made mistakes that got them into legal trouble, but went on to become productive members of society. By issuing them a pardon, the governor could lift the criminal charges that open the door for their detention and deportation.

New York City Council previously showed its disapproval of police-ICE collaboration in May when it passed a resolution to oppose Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law that requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is undocumented.

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