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Secure Communities Program in Spotlight

April 16, 2012
Plain English Version

The Department of Homeland Security issued two reports on the program called Secure Communities.

Secure Communities enforces immigration laws by deporting undocumented aliens with criminal records. It can also deport any immigrant found not to have legal papers.

It operates in most of the nation’s cities and states. Secure Communities will be nationwide in the next few months.

In one report the department’s inspector general said information given by the department to its workers was inconsistent and led to, “opposition, criticism and resistance in some locations.”

A second report said Secure Communities is effective in quickly identifying immigrants who commit crimes at a low cost to states. No reason for publishing two reports on the same day was given.

The first report is critical of ICE officials. The second report says the program is effective.

Under Secure Communities the fingerprints of anyone booked for a crime is checked against F.B.I. and Homeland Security databases. ICE officers are told to deport illegal immigrants with serious criminal records. They are to use discretion about deporting others.

Many states were told that Secure Communities was not mandatory. Later, Homeland security said it was mandatory for all states and localities. The first report said this lead to “missed opportunities” to clarify the situation.

Homeland Security officials said they were in the final stages of preparing new guidelines for the program.

A Democratic representative from California said she was “frankly disappointed” with the reports. “Does the program also trap victims and others with no criminal records? Can it lead to racial profiling?”

Immigrant advocates said the reports showed the program should be canceled.

The New York Times


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