“Secure Communities” Program Fosters Community Insecurity

(Photo by San Jose Mercury News)
Image from “Torn Apart” For a year, a reporter followed a San Mateo family on their emotional journey through the U.S. immigration system. Both parents came here as undocumented immigrants, but all six of their children are U.S. citizens.  The father was deported and the mother is fighting deportation.

by Yiyi Zhang

The Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program is a federal policy that unfairly targets all immigrants, under the guise of protecting local communities from violent felons. While supposedly established to identify violent criminals, the program actually results in the detention and deportation of mostly non-criminal immigrants, including lawful immigrants and permanent residents. This includes those who have been unlawfully arrested, charged with misdemeanors, or who have committed minor traffic violations.

S-Comm asks local law enforcement to share any fingerprints taken after an individual is arrested with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), effectively requesting local communities to enforce a federal immigration policy. Local agencies may share the information regardless of what the individual was charged with.

While localities may volunteer to activate S-Comm in their jurisdiction, once it is activated, any time that jurisdiction submits fingerprints to the DOJ to check for criminal history records, the same fingerprints are also automatically sent to DHS’ system to check against its immigration law enforcement records. By accepting the fingerprints of everyone booked into the custody of a participating jurisdiction, the S-Comm program encourages law enforcement officials to arrest all those they suspect are immigrants in order to acquire their fingerprints for submission to the DHS database.

Suspects are sometimes arrested based solely on appearance or lack of English proficiency. Even if their criminal charges are later dropped, the individual could still face further detention or possible removal under immigration proceeding.

According to ICE’s data, only about 1/5 of those deported under S-Comm were charged or convicted of a serious felony. The rest of those deported were picked up for lesser criminal offenses or misdemeanors.

A program like this exacerbates the problem of racial profiling in our local communities by specifically attacking people of color and immigrants. Under the oppressive threat of deportation wrought by S-Comm, individuals are now afraid to cooperate with the police for fear of being identified as non-citizens. This fosters a community of insecurity and distrust, where families are torn apart and innocent, productive lives are disintegrated.

To learn more, check out: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/secure-communities-fact-sheet

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One response to ““Secure Communities” Program Fosters Community Insecurity

  1. You know, this is hurting the community day after day and we really
    need your help to stop this unconstitutional racial profiling.
    Please act fast before it reaches the point of no return !

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