Uncover the Truth: Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Secure Communities Program Leads to Deportations of People Who Have Never Been Arrested

Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Secure Communities Program Leads to Deportations of People Who Have Never Been Arrested, Despite Objection of California Department of Justice

July 3, 2012—Today, advocates released emails from the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) that show that ICE’s controversial Secure Communities deportation program is sweeping in individuals who have never been criminally arrested, despite objections raised by the California Department of Justice. The emails—which were obtained as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic—show that people who are unable to satisfactorily identify themselves at drivers’ license checkpoints are processed for deportation through Secure Communities.

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Zanesville Times Recorder: Ruling Shows It’s Time for Immigration Reform

On June 29, 2012 Rekha Basu (Zanesville Times Recorder) wrote:

Three months ago, Victor Gabino Mendoza, a 17-year-old Des Moines high school student, heard a commotion in the parking lot of the building where he worked part time and went to see what was going on. He found police clashing with some people and asked what they were doing, according to his girlfriend’s uncle, Victor Torres. Apparently, he asked too many times or in the wrong way because he ended up under arrest himself, charged with interfering with official acts. He was jailed for a day and fined $250 plus court costs.

Had this happened to another young person, that might have been the end of it.

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Huffington Post – Immigration Official: ‘Draconian’ To Suspend Program Over Racial Profiling Investigation

Elise Foley reports on March 8, 2012:

WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said Thursday that the agency has no plans to suspend a controversial program that gives police authority to detect undocumented immigrants, even in jurisdictions under investigation for racial profiling.

“From our perspective that is a fairly draconian step, and we’re very concerned about the public safety implications of not identifying serious offenders who would otherwise be released to the streets,” Morton told a House of Representatives subcommittee on homeland security.

ICE has remained staunchly committed to the Secure Communities program, despite opposition from many immigrant-rights groups, lawmakers and law enforcement offices. And even though the agency, partnered with the Department of Justice, is investigating whether local police are engaged in racial profiling, the administration of President Obama plans to move ahead at the same rate to implement the program nationwide.

Secure Communities requires police to share fingerprint data on all arrestees with the federal government, namely the FBI, which transfers the data to ICE in order to detect undocumented immigrants. The program currently exists in 2,385 jurisdictions, including all along the Southwest border, and will be rolled out in all 3,181 nationwide by 2013.  Read more …

NYT: Immigration Crackdown Also Snares Americans

A growing number of United States citizens have been detained under Obama administration programs intended to detect illegal immigrants who are arrested by local police.

In a spate of recent cases across the country, American citizens have been confined in local jails after federal immigration agents, acting on flawed information from Department of Homeland Security databases, instructed the police to hold them for investigation and possible deportation.

Americans said their vehement protests that they were citizens went unheard by local police and jailers for days, with no communication with federal immigration agents to clarify the situation. Any case where an American is held, even briefly, for immigration investigation is a potential wrongful arrest because immigration agents lack legal authority to detain citizens. Read More …

Huffington Post: Deportations Leave Behind Thousands Of Children In Foster Care

"An unprecedented increase in the deportation of undocumented immigrants has left an estimated 5,100 children languishing in U.S. foster homes — a troubling figure that could triple in the coming years, according to a November report from a New York-based advocacy group. 

The "Shattered Families" report from the Applied Research Center, which the activist group says is the first to analyze national data related to the separation of families involved in deportations, offers a look at the human dimension of the highly contentious immigration debate.

The Obama administration deported 46,000 parents of children who are U.S. citizens in the first six months of 2011, the ARC report says. Government data shows a total of 397,000 expulsions in fiscal year 2011, with half involving people with criminal records.

'This means that almost one in four people deported is the parent of a United States citizen child,'saidSeth Freed Wessler, the report's chief investigator and author. 'ARC's research has uncovered a troubling collateral effect of these deportations: Thousands of children enter the child welfare system and are often stuck there.'"  Read more …

 

Fox News: House Panel to Subpoena Homeland Security for Information on Illegal Immigrants

"The House Judiciary Committee, in a rare move, is planning to subpoena the Department of Homeland Security for information about illegal and criminal immigrants whom the department has declined to deport. 

A subcommittee on the panel voted 7-4 on Wednesday to authorize the subpoena, which Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is expected to issue later this week. It would be the first subpoena issued by the committee since it came under GOP control. 

Smith and other Republican lawmakers want the department to provide detailed information about the thousands of immigrants who are flagged but not arrested or deported through a program known as Secure Communities. Smith had given the department an Oct. 31 deadline to provide the information voluntarily."  Read more … 

 

Huffington Post: DHS Documents State Local Police Not Required To Hold Undocumented Immigrants For U.S. Government

"WASHINGTON — Local law enforcement agencies are not required to hold undocumented immigrants at the request of the federal government, according to internal Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by a coalition of groups critical of the Secure Communities enforcement program.

The documents could provide ammunition for jurisdictions that no longer want to participate inSecure Communities, which allows federal immigration authorities to use fingerprints to scan those arrested by local law enforcement. They also support recent actions by Cook County, Ill., Santa Clara, Calif., and San Francisco, all of which decided this year to stop adhering to federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants who were either low-level offenders or were accused of felonies.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law received the documents after a Freedom of Information Act request and plan to release them this week. The three documents, from October 2010 and January 2011, clarify DHS policy on detainers — requests from federal immigration officials for police to hold those arrested, in some cases after being detected by enforcement programs.

'A detainer serves only to advise another law enforcement agency that ICE seeks an opportunity to interview and potentially assume custody of an alien presently in the custody of that agency,'according to an undated document.

Another document, notes from a briefing to Congressional Hispanic Caucus staff in October 2010, says 'local [law enforcements] are not mandated to honor a detainer, and in some jurisdictions they do not.' The third document, a series of questions and answers emailed in January 2010, says ICE detainers are 'a request,' and 'there is no penalty if they [local law enforcement] do not comply.'" Read more …

 

Color Lines: Counties Defy Feds, Vow Not to Detain Immigrants on ICE’s Behalf

"Cooperating with the federal government’s immigration enforcement agenda may be mandatory for local law enforcement, but localities are finding ways around the federal government’s programs.

Last week northern California’s Santa Clara County became the latest locality to pass an ordinance that will likely curb the number of its residents who get handed over to federal immigration authorities through the immigration enforcement program Secure Communities. That same week, Washington, D.C. mayor Vincent Gray signed an executive order reaffirming the rights of D.C. residents not to get harassed by law enforcement officers about their immigration status.

These announcements are the latest in a string of similar moves from other counties which have attempted to push back on the federal government’s interpretation of its Secure Communities program. S-Comm, as the initiative is often called, allows immigration officials to check the fingerprints of everyone booked into a local or county jail against federal immigration records. Even if the person is wrongfully arrested or never charged with any crime, they become subject to deportation if they’re found to be undocumented. If a match is found, Immigration and Customs Enforcement — if it doesn’t already have an agent posted inside the local jail — will call local law enforcement and ask them to detain a person while ICE agents come down to the jail to take them away for detention proceedings.

Santa Clara County has now determined that enforcing such detainers for ICE are 'requests' from the federal government which it’s under no obligation to carry out. It’s further argued that holding onto people in county jails for ICE is a costly financial burden that localities, which are not reimbursed by the federal government, should not to have enforce."  Read more …