Task Force Criticizes Secure Communities

A special task force appointed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to review the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program recently delivered a draft report criticizing the way Secure Communities has been implemented and enforced.

DHS convened the task force in June 2011 and gave it a mandate to collect input from the public in order to make recommendations regarding how Secure Communities can best accomplish its mission of identifying and deporting dangerous criminals who are in the United States illegally. During the summer, the task force held hearings that were attended by protesters who said the program targets any illegal immigrant who becomes involved in the justice system, which in some cases has included crime witnesses or victims.

The task force report addresses the protesters’ concerns and recommends that immigration agents should no longer detain individuals arrested for minor crimes who are identified as illegal immigrants by fingerprints furnished to federal authorities by local police, as is called for under Secure Communities.

The report also criticizes the way DHS introduced and explained the program, citing confusion over whether states have the right to opt-out of participation.

Five of the 19 task force members resigned in advance of the report’s release, saying its recommendations would not substantially improve the program, which should be suspended.