Protesters recently gathered at President Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters to call for the end of Secure Communities, one of his administration’s signature immigration enforcement programs. Protests were also held in other cities around the country, including Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles.
Under the Secure Communities program, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security uses the fingerprints taken from arrested individuals to determine their citizenship status. The program was intended to expedite the deportation of dangerous criminals not authorized to be in the United States, but critics say immigrants are being deported after committing minor infractions or even for reporting crimes.
John Morton, director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, recently told the New York Times that 90 percent of Secure Communities deportees during the last two years have been convicted criminals. But protesters question this statistic, and the Los Angeles Times recently reported that immigrants have been deported under the program even after being exonerated for the crimes they were arrested for.
Since Rhode Island instituted Secure Communities last spring, 14 individuals have been deported, nine of whom were arrested for minor offenses and had no prior criminal history, according to The Associated Press. Only two of the deportees had a record of violent crimes.
At the recent Boston protest, Roberto Lovato, founder of an immigrant rights group, told the Boston Herald that President Obama risks losing the Latino vote in 2012 if he does not end Secure Communities.