Lamar Smith Subpoenas DHS for Secure Communities Records

The House Immigration Subcommittee recently voted to authorize Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith to subpoena the Department of Homeland Security for records related to the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program.

In August, Smith sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, requesting the agency furnish his office with records of individuals who were identified as illegal immigrants through the Secure Communities program but were not detained.

Under Secure Communities, local law enforcement organizations share fingerprints of arrested individuals with federal immigration agencies, which can run the prints through a database to check the arrestee’s citizenship status. In his August letter, Smith asserted that Secure Communities identified 536,148 illegal immigrants between October 2008 and April 2011, but of these, 56 percent were released on grounds they had been booked for “low-level” offenses and were not high-priority deportation cases. Smith requested DHS provide the FBI number of all these low-level criminal immigrants.

Smith reiterated his request when Napolitano recently appeared before the Judiciary Committee. He stated that despite promises to comply, DHS had not done so.

A Republican from Texas, Smith has been an outspoken critic of the White House’s policy of selectively prosecuting deportation cases, prioritizing those involving violent criminals and other dangerous offenders. In a statement praising the Immigration Subcommittee for approving his subpoena, Smith again went after the administration of President Barack Obama.

Smith stated, “Are administration officials afraid that the information will show that illegal immigrants intentionally released by ICE have committed crimes that could have been prevented?”

Critics of Secure Communities have stated it leads to mistaken cases of U.S. citizens being processed as illegal immigrants, and this argument was supported by a recent University of California-Berkeley study that found 3,600 American citizens have been detained through the program. The Berkeley study also asserted the program targets Latinos disproportionately