Some criminal illegal immigrants in the custody of local law enforcement face quicker identification and deportation under a growing biometric-information sharing program between local law enforcement and ICE, the agency of the Department of Homeland Security charged with enforcement of immigration and deportation laws, and the investigation and prosecution of immigration violations. The program is known as Secure Communities.
What is Secure Communities
Secure Communities is a program that allows ICE to quickly find criminal illegal immigrants in local police custody and begin the deportation process for those who pose a danger to public safety. Under the program DHS can automatically verify the immigration status of aliens taken into the custody of local police and find the most dangerous criminal aliens using the records in its databases. If the alien has potentially violated immigration laws DHS may issue a detainer against the alien. A detainer is a request to local law enforcement not to release the person before notifying DHS so that DHS may decide if it wants to transfer the person to the custody of ICE during deportation proceedings.
Where Secure Communities exists
As of December 6, 2011 Secure Communities is fully or partially activated in 44 jurisdictions. The fully activated jurisdictions on this date were;
11. New Mexico,
12. North Carolina,
16. Rhode Island,
17. South Carolina,
20. West Virginia,
21. Wisconsin, and
22. Puerto Rico.
The jurisdictions that have no active Secure Communities program included Alaska, Washington D.C., Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Vermont, and the United States Virgin Islands. All other jurisdictions were partially activated. In New York, for example, 31 of 62 counties participated in Secure Communities while in Nevada 14 of 17 counties participated. In Maryland and Ohio, the number of active counties were 22 of 24 and 77 of 88 respectively.
Is Secure Communities targeting dangerous aliens or is it a broad dragnet?
U.S. Immigration and deportation law experts have expressed mounting concern that the program unintentionally encourages local police to engage in racial and ethnic profiling. Though ICE has a priority system for deportation of criminal aliens and not mere immigration violators, some immigration lawyers and activists argue that the priority system is confusing. Furthermore they argue that ICE has no clear mechanism for ensuring that its agents act according to its priorities. As a result, some non-violent offenders (nannies and gardeners) convicted of minor crimes such as traffic violations are deported. There may also be mistakes in criminal records that lead to deportation of green card holders and other aliens in error. Some of the foreign nationals affected by these errors may choose to leave the United States rather than stay in ICE detention while fighting deportation.
Record level of US deportations and contribution of Secure Communities
Through Oct. 31, 2011, ICE removed more than 110,000 immigrants convicted of crimes, including more than 39,500 convicted of aggravated felony (level 1) offenses like murder, rape and the sexual abuse of children from the United States after identification through Secure Communities.
In Fiscal Year 2011, ICE deported a record-breaking 396,906 people. Fifty five percent of those deported in Fiscal Year 2011—216,698 —were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, an increase of 89 percent since 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence. The number of aliens deported as a result of Secure Communities in Fiscal Year 2010 alone was 35,910.
Want to know if your county participates? ICE listing of Secure Communities.
3. Activated Jurisdictions - Is Secure Communities active in your county?
4. Deported teen returns to US. How many Americans are mistakenly banished? - The Christian Science Monitor
This post was last updated on January 08, 2012