SECURE COMMUNITIES UPDATED: TARGETTING CRIMINAL ALIENS
As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to enforce US Immigration law, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today improvements to the Secure Communities program—a program that makes the removal of criminal aliens a priority.
“Secure Communities is a critical tool for law enforcement agencies working to protect the citizens and communities they serve,” said ICE Director John Morton. “However, we need to do a better job of ensuring that the program is more focused on targeting those that pose the biggest risk to communities. Today we are undertaking several reforms—developed in collaboration with our law enforcement partners and other stakeholders—that help us achieve that goal and will improve and strengthen the program.”
In conjunction with other agencies, including the FBI, Secure Communities identifies criminals deemed dangerous through information exchange. When an individual is arrested, they are fingerprinted and booked into jail, and their fingerprints are transmitted to the FBI and checked against the FBI’s criminal database and shared with ICE. ICE checks that against immigration databases, thereby identifying those unlawfully present in the U.S.
According to ICE, more than 77,000 immigrants convicted of crimes, including more than 28,000 convicted of aggravated felony (level 1) offenses like murder, rape and the sexual abuse of children were deported from the US after identification through Secure Communities up through April 30, 2011. Some immigration advocates expressed concern prompting the changes that domestic violence survivors and those illegally present but not otherwise arrested or convicted of a crime were unfairly targeted. They requested that appropriate discretion be exercised to ensure victims and witnesses to crimes are also not penalized by removal. Such a position recognizes the need to prioritize which aliens are targeted in the appropriation of already limited federal government funds in the fight against illegal immigration