Leaders from an immigrant rights group said Thursday they plan to "demand" that Gov. Deval Patrick sign an executive order against the planned launch next week of the controversial Secure Communities program.

 

"If he is really against this program he can really do it," said Patricia Montes, executive director of the Latino immigrant organization Centro Presente.

 

The federal program, which refers arrested illegal immigrants to federal immigration officials, is slated to launch in Massachusetts next Tuesday, the Globe reported. Boston is the only community in Massachusetts that has enacted the program.

 

In the wake of the news of the program's launch, immigrant rights groups held an event Thursday to try to block the implementation. Groups also planned a rally Friday outside the JFK Federal Building to show their opposition.

 

Many police agencies and county sheriffs have said they support the program as a law enforcement tool, but others, including Patrick, have criticized the program for deporting immigrants who have not been convicted of a crime.

 

"What we need is comprehensive immigration reform, not more punishment for people who are already being exploited," said state Rep. Denise Provost of Somerville. She called the program a "misuse of federal power."

The impending launch has caused worry and concern among the immigrant community, which fears family members with no criminal history will be deported for minor crimes or infractions.

Christina Aguilera, an organizer with the immigrant advocacy group MIRA Coalition, said the program destroys trust between the immigrant community and police, encourages racial profiling and discourages immigrants who are victims of a crime to come forward.