The Department of Homeland Security held four public hearings on the Secure Communities Program. The program checks the fingerprints of immigrants held by police against the Homeland Security database.
The purpose of the program is to identify and deport serious criminals. In reality, many people charged only with being in the United States illegally or having committed minor crimes face deportation.
At the public hearings, many organizations representing immigrants, as well as legal and some law enforcement agencies criticized the program. They said it did not separate real criminals from noncitizens who were simply undocumented. They also said the program undermined the immigrant community’s confidence in the police.
The hearings were very heated. Groups walked out accusing the administration of not wanting to deal with the serious problems in the program. The hearings were in Arlington, Virginia, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The administration said it will cancel deportation proceedings against many non-citizens who had not committed crimes.
The chairman of the Task Force holding the hearings said the program is trying to locate serious offenders. He said, “I do not think there is any question that a number of people caught up in the system do not fit the criteria of serious offender.” The Task Force will report in September 2011.
The program will cover the whole country by 2013.