On February 23, migrant workers driving toward New Jersey were pulled over by state troopers on their way to pack vegetables. According to the Star-Ledger, two of the men who were illegal immigrants, were deported, while the troopers detained several of the other passengers.
This was not the first case of undocumented immigrants facing deportation following random traffic stops. These arrests of individuals without proper immigration forms will likely go up in number due to the controversial fingerprint sharing program Secure Communities. Created by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the program was activated on February 22 in New Jersey, and is in effect in 47 other states.
Although several states have attempted to back out of the program, federal officials made it mandatory for each state to use the program. All 50 states are expected to be using the program by 2013.
The program launched in May 2008, and was initially supposed to be used to draw attention to dangerous criminals that were in the country undocumented. The program’s system consists of FBI-shared fingerprints collected from arrests, however, immigrants without American citizenship that have never been convicted of a crime and low-level offenders are appearing in the system, which is why the program is coming under fire.
On April 25, immigration advocates and Newark, New Jersey, residents gathered at a local church to call an end to Secure Communities. The group wants to bring attention to the program, saying that it encourages racial profiling and that law officials are misusing their power within communities to deport and detain immigrants.
Some immigration advocates have been protesting the history of immigrant detention in the state of New Jersey for the past several years. Several people have reported cases of abuse, even death from maltreatment. The Stat-Ledger reported that in 2011, the ICE program deported 5,305 illegal immigrants in New Jersey alone. Since Secure Communities’ implementation in February, the program has not been responsible for any deportations and there have been 230 lodged detainers on immigrants.