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The U.S DHS counterterrorism teams rely on cooperation from immigrant communities to obtain leads on radical individuals and pending terrorism plots, but many of these communities are becoming more wary of federal law enforcement as the number of deportations increase.
DHS chief Jeh Johnson met last Thursday with immigrant rights groups in Brooklyn, where he encouraged them to work with DHS to fight terrorism. “The global terrorist threat has evolved to a new place,” Johnson said. “The global terrorist threat is more decentralized, it’s more defuse, it’s more complex. We see now terrorist organizations making effective use of social media, the Internet, films.”
According to Home land Security New Wire Camille Meckler, the director of legal initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, attended last week’s meeting. She said DHS officials wanted immigrant groups and communities to report suspicious activity, but the agency failed to present a program to facilitate the reporting. She added that immigrants are concerned with reaching out to DHS, much of whose work revolves around tracking and deporting undocumented immigrants.
“We welcome and encourage any opportunity for meaningful dialogue,” Meckler told Huffington Post. “But at the same time, I think it needs to be said that the onus is on DHS to make sure that these dialogs are meaningful. … The trust has been significantly eroded. Immigrant communities are against terrorism just like any other community. They want to be safe and they want their neighbors to be safe, but it’s on the government to restore that trust.”
Following the 9/11 attacks, the federal government stepped up efforts to track undocumented immigrants and secure the southern U.S. border. DHS launched Secure Communities in 2008, which urged local law enforcement to share fingerprint data with DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigrant rights groups complained about the program, saying it bred distrust of local police by connecting police with deportation officials