Secure Communities Has Devastating Impact

Secure Communities ImpactNew Data Highlights Devastating Impact of Secure Communities on Immigrant and Latino Communities

New data on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) controversial Secure Communities reveals the program’s devastating impact on immigrants, Latinos and U.S. citizens. Released by the Warren Institute at Berkeley Law School, the report, “Secure Communities by the Numbers,” examines the profile of individuals who have been apprehended through the program and funneled through the system. The results are startling. Many communities, in fact, are questioning their level of cooperation with the government on certain aspects of this flawed enforcement program.

The report finds that Secure Communities:

  • Leads to costly mistakes: Approximately 3,600 U.S. citizens have been arrested by ICE through the program.
  • Affects American families: More than 1/3 of those arrested through the program have a US citizen spouse or child.
  • Disproportionately affects Latinos:  Latinos make up 93% of those arrested through S-Comm—disproportionately more than their 77% of the unauthorized population.
  • Results in a lack of due process and violation of civil rights:  Only 24% of those arrested through Secure Communities who had an immigration hearing were represented by an attorney—far less than the 41% of all immigrants in immigration court who have lawyers. They are more likely to be placed in detention, spend more time in detention and are unlikely to get out on bond.
  • Does not result in relief: Only 2% of those arrested through S-Comm were granted some form of relief from deportation, compared to 14% of all immigrants in immigration court who are granted relief.

Given the litany of problems inherent in the program, communities are not only questioning the government’s management of Secure Communities, but passing policies to limit cooperation.

In New York, a U.S. District Judge recently ordered the government to turn over documents expected to explain why ICE at first made participation in Secure Communities optional, then mandatory. Advocates hope “the judge’s order will shine light on a program plagued with secrecy and lies.”

Santa Clara County, California, recently passed an ordinance acknowledging that immigration detainers issued by the federal government are requests and are not mandatory. Furthermore, holding immigrants in detention while they wait for ICE to take the immigrant into custody costs the county money. Under the new ordinance, Santa Clara county officials will still hold immigrants that have been convicted of a serious or violent crime, but can choose to ignore other detainers.

In Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray signed an executive order prohibiting the practice of holding immigrants on ICE detainers for longer than the legally mandated 48-hour period. (The American Immigration Council and other organizations have documented the abuse of the 48-hour rule by local law enforcement agencies.)

michele waslinThe problems with Secure Communities are so wide spread that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appointed a task force to recommend fixes for the program. While the task force submitted a list of recommendations in late September, DHS has yet to respond. Meanwhile, DHS recently announced record high deportation numbers for this year—many of which include immigrants identified through Secure Communities who do not have a serious criminal conviction.

Michele Waslin
Immigration Impact 

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  1. MdeG says

    If you want to talk about intellectual honesty, try getting the facts straight.

    Crime. Undoc. presence is in most cases a civil offense. Other than that, people who don’t have documents commit crimes at lower rates than those who do. If all of them were to be removed, the per cap. crime rate would go up.

    Education. Yes, there is an extra burden on local school systems from educating students who need to learn English. However the federal courts have ruled that K-12 must be available to all. I see no benefit in mandating that *any* group of people be denied basic education.

    Health care. Benefits available to the undocumented are minimal. Yes, there is some burden on local hospitals, especially the hospitals of last resort. Again, I see no general gain to society in letting people die on the street. On the contrary, basic preventive care like childhood vaccinations is to the good of all of us.

    Employment. Complicated. There is competition in some areas. In others there isn’t. For example, where migrant ag. workers have been deported, it’s proved very hard to fill their jobs. From my point of view, the country’s whole food system is basically resting on the backs of the undocumented, who are generally underpaid and badly treated. They’re subsidizing a lifestyle that we couldn’t otherwise afford.

    Environment. I have heard the argument that bringing more people into the wasteful and over-consuming US economy is bad for the environment. Guess what? The wasteful and over-consuming US economy is bad for the environment anyhow. “I’ve got mine, you get lost” is a profoundly immoral statement. Integrating people into the better part of our world — teaching ecological understanding, explaining the consequences of our throw-away society — is a good thing, and it does get communicated back to home countries. Just got back from a family visit in Central America & was greatly encouraged to hear some relatives enthusiastically working on organic agriculture, for example.

    We libs might just have noticed that the people who take off and come here without docs are mostly not common criminals. They’re thinking, intelligent human beings who have watched their countries’ economies gutted by “fair” trade agreements, violence spawned by US proxy wars, etc. and who have seen no other option than to emigrate. Since we give working-class people no lawful access, they come through the back door.

    What we need to work toward is a sane, just, consistent immigration system. Not blaming working folks who find themselves in impossible situations.

  2. Yuny Parada says

    I feel as if my best friend stabbed me in the back.
    I voted for President Obama, I worked in his campaign,
    I am hurt.

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