The federal government’s Secure Communities immigration enforcement program should be suspended until significant changes are made, according to “Secure Communities by the Numbers,” a recently released report from the University of California-Berkeley and Yeshiva University.
Under the Secure Communities program, instituted in 2008, local law enforcement organizations grant the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency access to the fingerprint records of all arrested individuals. ICE can run the fingerprints through a database to check for citizenship status.
After examining ICE records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the “By the Numbers” authors discovered Secure Communities is plagued by problems.
According to the report, Secure Communities has fostered indiscriminate arrest and incarceration procedures that have led to approximately 3,600 U.S. citizens being wrongfully detained.
Of the non-citizens who were identified through the program and subsequently appeared before an immigration judge, only 2 percent were not deported. The overall rate for deportation relief granted by immigration judges is 14 percent. The high rate of Secure Communities deportations could be related to the fact that 40 percent of all immigration court respondents have a lawyer, but less than a quarter of Secure Communities respondents have had representation in court.
Secure Communities apparently encourages racial profiling against Latinos, according to the report, as 93 percent of Secure Communities arrests have been of Latinos, while the demographic only makes up 77 percent of the total U.S. undocumented population. The report also stated the program places low-level, non-criminal offenders in deportation proceedings.
On the same day the report was released, Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray announced that the District will continue to comply with the program, but it will hold Secure Communities detainees no more than 48 hours, regardless of ICE requests.