Controversial Secure Communities Initiative Continues But Without Agreements with States

In an abrupt change of approach to a key immigration enforcement program, ICE declared in early August that it would continue its “Secure Communities” program but without memoranda of agreements (MOA) with state or local law enforcement agencies because ICE deemed them unnecessary. MOAs already in place were unilaterally terminated.  Under the three-year-old Secure Communities program, the FBI shares fingerprint data of people arrested by local (or state) law enforcement authorities with DHS so that it, in turn, can check for immigration law violations. Procedurally, the program has been criticized by some state and local governments for lack of uniformity, inconsistency, and confusion. For example, local authorities have been led to believe that the program is “voluntary” when in fact there is no mechanism for them to opt out. More substantively, the program has been criticized for netting low-level or non-criminal immigration violators – 60% of those arrested are not serious criminals according to ICE statistics – at the expense of local community policing efforts. Indeed, as reported in the Washington Post, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino assessed the program more bluntly, and wrote to ICE Director Morton that “Secure Communities is negatively impacting public safety.” Despite the criticisms, ICE plans to have the program in place nationwide by 2013.

Category: Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Comment »


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