Hundreds of protesters called for the end of the Secure Communities initiative at a recent hearing in Los Angeles regarding the controversial immigration enforcement program.
Secure Communities uses fingerprints collected from individuals who enter the criminal justice system to identify and begin deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants. The program has sparked controversy because minor offenders, domestic abuse victims and accused criminals later exonerated have been deported under the initiative, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a task force to study the program and recommend improvements. Two task force members were in Los Angeles to hear testimony from those affected by the program, but many of those who took the stage called for Secure Communities to end entirely. This sentiment roused the crowd, who chanted “terminate the program.”
One of the task force members at the event, Arturo Venegas, told the L.A. Times the program is intended to target violent felons and not those booked for minor violations like traffic offenses.
A woman whose deportation proceedings began after she called in a domestic abuse report took the stage at the rally, as did a woman who was investigated by US immigration authorities after being arrested for selling ice cream on the street, according to the source.
Since Rhode island began taking part in Secure Communities last spring, 14 immigrants have been deported through the program, nine of whom were arrested for minor offenses and had no prior record, The Associated Press recently reported.