Protesters against the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program recently formed a human chain to block traffic in downtown Chicago, leading to 10 arrests.
Under the Secure Communities program, launched in 2008, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency checks the fingerprints of arrested individuals to determine their citizenship status. ICE says the program expedites the deportation of violent criminals and other felons, while critics of the program say any undocumented resident who enters the U.S. justice system, even minor offenders and crime witnesses, now risks deportation.
The Department of Homeland Security has commissioned a task force to hear testimony about the program and recommend ways to improve it. During a recent task force hearing in Chicago, protesters took to the streets outside and blocked an entrance ramp to the Kennedy Expressway during rush hour. Illegal immigrants were among the 10 people arrested, and they could now face deportation, according to ABC-7, the Chicago ABC affiliate.
The street protest occurred one day after a rally against Secure Communities took place outside President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in the city. Other protest actions were recently held in cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta.
As of April 30, 2011, more than 28,000 convicted violent criminals had been identified and deported through Secure Communities, according to ICE. Despite this record, task force member Arturo Venegas acknowledged to ABC-7 that the program “has a lot of problems at various levels.”