Dispatches, United States

Immigration Reform Activists And ICE Reach Impasse Over Secure Communities

July 24, 2011 By Roque Planas

NEW YORK – When the governors of Illinois, New York and Massachusetts announced in quick succession that they would pull away from Secure Communities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton knew he had a problem. He responded by retooling the immigration data-sharing program to address a common complaint – that Secure Communities deports run-of-the-mill undocumented immigrants just as often as it does serious criminals.

Morton outlined his proposed changes to Secure Communities in a memo dated June 17, elaborating on the concept of prosecutorial discretion that is supposed to determine which undocumented immigrants wind up getting deported. The memo does not detail a specific process for deciding who to deport, instead saying that “decisions should be based on the totality of the circumstances.”

The memo directs ICE to go easy on some groups, however, including veterans or active members of the U.S. military, long-time permanent residents, minors, the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, and victims of domestic abuse. Morton writes that the agency prioritizes deporting those who present “a clear risk to national security,” such as serious felons, repeat offenders, gang members and those who repeatedly enter the United States illegally.

Now, ICE officials are on an outreach campaign to convince immigrant advocates that their concerns were addressed.

So far, ICE isn’t making much progress.

At a press conference on July 15 before a meeting with ICE, representatives of some 30 New York immigrant advocacy groups said no changes would satisfy them, reiterating their criticisms of the program – that it undermines trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities and that deportation of noncriminals unnecessarily breaks up families composed of both U.S.-citizens and non-citizens.

“No adjustments that they make will ever be sufficient because Secure Communities is fatally flawed,” said Michelle Fei of the Immigrant Defense Project, who criticized ICE for refusing to meet with the families who had been affected by the program.

“We don’t believe in this program because it does harm. It deports families,” activist Vicente Maya said in Spanish at the press conference.

The meeting, attended by ICE Executive Associate Director Gary Mead and other staff members, did not dispel the air of pessimism among advocates.


Christian in Austin says:


jackpo says:

You comment is good aand focus on social justice.the problem is not ICE.The USCIS really needs to be abolished with the former INS restrctured.I do interviews which are marriege realted.We spend Govt RESOURCES FOR no reasons.

AoC says:

Obama hoped to bring Republicans to the table for a deal on immigration reform by acting tough on enforcement.

And that’s all it is-An act.

taxpayer200 says:

The taxpayers were taken advantage of in the 1986 amnesty. They were promised secure borders and an end to illegal immigration.

There will be no legalization of those who came illegally until we have e-verify, Secure Communities and a valid visa tracking system up and running as well as secure borders.

This time we’ll make sure the systems to control immigration are in place.

Then we can consider who should become a legal resident.

cubana 1960 says:

One of the reasons I will probably vote for Obama ONLY because he will be the only viable alternative. He sold Latinos off. His words were very cheap.

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Americana says:

“No adjustments that they make will ever be sufficient because Secure Communities is fatally flawed”

So since the racist illegal advocates will never be satisfied there is no reason for ICE to meet with them anymore. The racists whine at ANY enforcement. S-Comm doesn’t come into play unless an illegal is arrested, so they must commit another crime (besides being illegal and all the other laws they break) b4 their prints are checked. Illegals should be deported as found, no exceptions! I will never vote for anyone who helps to protect illegals! Deport them all !

roland v. says:

yeah they better ***** do something quick cause they are effecting lots of families for dum stuff , they better look at the serious offenders , they era doing way to much harm to people , and also they way they are threat it ones they are in “ICE “….

there are taking peoples live and breaking lots of families for stupid **** !!! they need to do whats right and look at the time they have been there in the states , its not fair at ALL !!!!

hacimo says:

Throughout the great US crime wave that started in 1960 and peaked in around 1990, the predominan­t approach of police was to focus limited resources of “major” crimes like murder and robbery and assault. There was little success with this approach. The tide finally turned when the Giuliani administra­tion in New York city introduced the idea of arresting and punishing people for minor”stre­et” crimes like verbal assault, littering and disorderly conduct. The tactic had dramatic effects because of something called the “broken window theory” which is an idea introduced in a 1982 article by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. The broken windows theory is a criminolog­ical theory of the norm setting and signaling effects of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-socia­l behavior. The theory states that monitoring and maintainin­g urban environmen­ts in a well-order­ed condition may prevent further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime. It is clear from this theory that there is a very good reason for the secure communities program to deports aliens for minor crimes and misdemeanors. It will indirectly have a very large and beneficial societal impact and will greatly deter overall criminal behavior among illegal immigrants­. It is very wrong to view this as unjust or inappropriate. It really works in practice, it saves lives, and it is the most cost-effec­tive approach to maintainin­g a safe society.

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