Latest "Secure Communities" Change Fails to Solve Programs Fundamental Flaws
The following is a statement by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR):
Chicago – The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has remained steadfast in opposing “Secure Communities.” Today’s announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) only highlights the program’s failings and fails to address its flaws. The announced modification only states that ICE will hold off on arresting people charged only with minor traffic offenses until after they are convicted. ICE’s unwillingness to make any deeper changes to the program only further reinforces the need to end “Secure Communities” altogether.
ICE’s “Secure Communities” program involves the fingerprints that police departments take when booking suspects and send routinely to the FBI. Under the program, ICE receives and reviews these fingerprints and identifies individuals subject to deportation. While sold as a tool for catching serious convicted criminals, 57% of people deported are non-criminals or guilty of misdemeanors. These are people who pose little or no threat to our community—not people who we should be using our scarce law enforcement resources to target. The program has burdened law enforcement agencies with additional costs and undermined their efforts to build trust with immigrant communities.
In light of these flaws, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn withdrew Illinois from the program on May 4, 2011. Two other states followed suit in ending their participation. However, on August 5, ICE announced that “Secure Communities” is mandatory and annulled its prior agreements with states regarding the program. Meanwhile, the program has made possible unprecedented levels of deportations since its launch in 2008. In all, more than 1.2 million immigrants have been deported since that launch--176,053 of whom were identified under “Secure Communities.”
ICIRR calls on ICE to immediately halt the “Secure Communities” program and to respect the decision by Governor Quinn to remove Illinois from the program as well as similar decisions by other governors, sheriffs, mayors, and city councils across the country. ICIRR also calls on the Obama Administration to stop the deportation of immigrants and recommit itself to winning immigration reform and keeping immigrant families together.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit www.icirr.org.