‘Secure Communities’ — An Information Circus

 (Post by Christine Zagrobelny.)

Early in my research for this piece, these removal numbers from the Department of Homeland security, stretching from 1892 to 2013 caught my attention.  I wanted to understand how the staggering jump during the last ~10 years happened.

I took a preliminary look at the history of immigration legislation, but the past 20 years boasted only minor legislative action on immigration.  In lieu of legislation, it has fallen to the enforcement strategy of presidencies to shape immigration policy. One such initiative, which began in the Bush administration and continued under Obama until 2014, is ‘Secure Communities’.

‘Secure Communities’ is a federal information sharing program in which fingerprints taken during the course of state/local law enforcement are checked against the immigration database. Individuals may be detained by ICE if their fingerprints match a record in the immigration database.  The purported goal of this program is to allow ICE to deport ‘criminal’ undocumented immigrants. In reality, the majority of those deported through this cooperation had only minor, non-criminal violations or immigration violations.

The paradoxical nature of ‘Secure Communities’ drew me in.  It’s stated purpose was to create ‘secure communities’, but, for immigrant communities, the opposite effect was evident.  The implied association of ‘criminality’ with undocumented immigrants plays into a central paradox of our national opinion of immigrants throughout the years:  we are a nation of immigrants, BUT, the most recent arrivals are seen as a threat to our livelihood.

My piece is an immersive experience in which the audience explores the controversy surrounding the implementation of Secure Communities in New York City through a variety of dramatized news/information sources.  Through the contributions of a dozen actors and pile of source materials, we have a lot of information to share.  But, more than that, we hope you’ll join us to help parse the information and to share your thoughts.

Secure Communities — An Information Circus is directed by Christine Zagronbelny for Food:Soul—BREATHE FREE, and features Matthew Trumbull, Stephanie Willing, Jane Lincoln Taylor, Sarah Amandes, Adriana Sananes, Adriana Jones, Ken Glickfeld, Nicole Betancourt and Chester Poon. 

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