Secure Communities “Fixes” Mask the Reality of States Locked into a Shadow Deportation Program

Posted on July 5, 2011


A week or two ago, ICE and Homeland Security announced a series of “fixes” meant to answer the many complaints from local and state level authorities about the Secure Communities program. The program ostensibly “allows” local law enforcement to share biometric data with federal immigration enforcement agencies, ostensibly . But states have quickly come to find that data is indiscriminately parsed, trapping immigrants guilty of either minor misdemeanors or innocent of any charge in the same deportation system as those guilty of more serious crimes.

While ICE claims it has now given prosecutorial discretion to prevent such deportations, evidence of indiscriminate deportation continues to emerge. In Boston, an undocumented woman picked up for minor traffic violations, was immediately transferred to immigration authorities

 The cases disprove for the first time claims by Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis that the federal program, as implemented by the city, is only being used to root out serious criminals.

After the Globe presented him with these examples last week, Davis urged US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt deportation proceedings against them. […]

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to questions about Davis’s concerns.

While Davis claims that continued deportations of this kind will force him to opt out of the program, such actions are increasingly revealed to be of little use. Although New York state recently officially “opted out” of the program, DHS now claims that the individual counties that participate in the program are locked in. Moreover, while ICE promises to be more picky about its deportations, it will continue to prevent local authorities from being able to control how biometric data is used by the federal government.

It becomes clearer that the “tweaks” were meant to misdirect attention from the states revolt against the program at a crucial time, as both California and New York, as well as other states, take official stands against participation. Ironically, although this is the most blatant case of violation of states rights imaginable—as state governments seek to keep control over the biometric data and the freedom of their citizens—the Republican party, and “Tea Party” not surprisingly, remain silent. And, on the national level, very few Democrats have taken a stand against what appears to be a program that will allow Obama to maintain political ties to Latino communities, while still answering to anti-immigrant desires. Pressure, however, will continue to rise from below, as advocacy and legal defense organizations, continue to seek relief from the toxic program.