Secure Communities Not Much Better than Previous Immigration Rulings

Secure Communities is a new program looking to replace the heavily criticized 287(g) immigration program, which gives local and state law enforcement many immigration rights originally reserved for those working for the Immigration Customs Enforcement. Currently being utilized by many states, Secure Communities has already begun to see large waves of backlash.

Many state officials are not happy to enforce Secure Communities, which has been touted as even more stringent than 287(g) in some regards, according to Washington state news source the Bellingham Herald. Maryland recently became one of 44 states nationwide to enact Secure Communities, a move that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said was “deeply disappointing.”

Baltimore’s city council even passed a resolution in 2011 condemning the program, stating that it would “promote a culture of fear and discourage trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities throughout the city.”

The program also seems to be working counter-intuitively with the Obama administration’s pledge to focus on detaining individuals without immigration forms who have a criminal background. One particular case is that of Marshalltown, Iowa, resident Salvador Lara. According to the Des Moines Register, Lara, 25, was detained for not reporting an unmarked bag containing $85 that he found in a supermarket parking lot. Lara, a local soccer coach that is well-liked throughout this small community, has never tried to hide his immigration status, choosing to work at restaurants rather than buying fake papers to work at the higher-paying jobs at the local meatpacking plants.

In Iowa alone, more than 1,200 people, many similar to Lara in their crimes, have been sent to detention centers in the last 18 months. According to the Register, approximately one-third of all deportation cases occur with “criminals” who have two or fewer misdemeanors. Lara’s only charge against him was this fifth-degree theft.