Washington – Activists in the immigrant community this week will hold a "National Day of Action" to demand that President Barack Obama "immediately" put an end to the controversial Secure Communities program or risk losing the support of the Hispanic electorate in the 2012 election.
The activists said that, as part of the protests, they will deliver "thousands of petitions" on Tuesday to the headquarters of Obama's reelection campaign in Chicago, and they will express their indignation over the expansion of S-COMM, an initiative that effectively turns local police officers into immigration agents.
Coordinated protests also will be staged Houston, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Obama has not only deported more than 1 million undocumented foreigners since he took office in 2009, but he "is taking steps that will wreak even greater havoc and devastation on immigrant communities," the Presente.org coalition said in a statement.
"If the president continues driving away Latino voters, he will lose the election, pure and simple," according to Presente's Carlos Roa.
"He can't expect Latino voters and an entire community to just keep watching while he expanded Secure Communities, an extremely controversial program that separates families," Roa said.
The activist noted that during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama promised to get immigration reform under way during the first year of his mandate and to be "a friend to the Latino community," but instead "he has (acted) in complete opposition to his promises."
On Aug. 5, the Department of Homeland Security made clear that participation in S-COMM, which was launched in 2008, is obligatory and will no longer require the signing of an agreement with the federal government, which had been the case up to now.
The program requires local authorities to share with the federal government fingerprints and other biometric data taken from undocumented prisoners in local jails.
Prisoners with serious criminal records, including rapists, murderers and kidnappers, remain subject to deportation.
The activists are worried that the program is also going to trap people who commit minor traffic violations or other minor crimes.
They also say that the program diverts police resources from other areas and has eroded the immigrant community's confidence in and cooperation with the police.
The program has also run into resistance from several political leaders, including the Democratic governors of Illinois, Pat Quinn; New York, Andrew Cuomo; and Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, all of whom have tried to opt out of S-COMM.