A Quarter of Those Deported Under Secure Communities Program Had No Criminal Record (Long Island WINS)

A Quarter of Those Deported Under Secure Communities Program Had No Criminal Record

Posted August 10, 2010 by Ted Hesson
Categories: Federal Immigration Policy

From October 2008 until June of this year, 46,929 immigrants were deported through the immigration enforcement program Secure Communities, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics that will be released to the public today by several advocacy organizations.

Of those deported, roughly 25 percent did not have a criminal record—evidence that the program is overstepping its own enforcement parameters.

A few weeks ago, we broke the news that Secure Communities, often criticized by advocates for straying from its purported focus on serious criminals, would be coming to New York State, and today’s news reinforces fears about how the program will be used.

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON — Records show that about 47,000 people were removed or deported from the U.S. after the Homeland Security Department sifted through 3 million sets of fingerprints taken from bookings at local jails.
About one-quarter of those kicked out of the country did not have criminal records, according to government data obtained by immigration advocacy groups that filed a lawsuit. The groups plan to release the data Tuesday and provided early copies to The Associated Press.
At issue is a fingerprint-sharing program known as Secure Communities that the government says is focused on getting rid of the “worst of the worst” criminal immigrants from the U.S.
Immigration advocates say that the government instead spends too much time on lower-level criminals or non-criminals.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement divides crimes into three categories, with Level 1 being the most serious. Level 1 crimes include actions that threaten or compromise national security, murder, rape, drug crimes punishable by more than one year and even resisting arrest.
Most of those deported committed Level 2 or 3 crimes or were non-criminals, a monthly report of Secure Communities statistics shows.
“ICE has pulled a bait and switch, with local law enforcement spending more time and resources facilitating the deportations of bus boys and gardeners than murderers and rapists and at considerable cost to local community policing strategies, making us all less safe,” said Peter Markowitz, director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

The immigration enforcement statistic were obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request by the National Day Laborer’s Organizers Network, the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

At 1pm today, those groups will hold a teleconference to discuss the findings.