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Document on Opting Out of Immigration Enforcement Program Mysteriously Disappears

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said not to read too much into it, but the August document listing steps for communities to opt out of the Secure Communities program seems to have disappeared from the ICE website. The document was one of several written records of ICE’s stance that communities could choose not to participate in the program to share fingerprints with federal immigration enforcement, before officials announced that opting out was actually impossible.

It could be nothing — ICE launched a new website today, and ICE spokeswoman Cori Bassett said it is possible the document was lost in the shuffle and will reappear later. Still, given the recent contention over Secure Communities, it is interesting that this document has gone missing while a number of others touting the program’s achievements remain in place.

For posterity, here is the section on opting out in the Aug. 17 memo called “Setting the Record Straight” (the old link is dead):

If a jurisdiction does not wish to activate on its scheduled date in the Secure Communities deployment plan, it must formally notify its state identification bureau and ICE in writing (email, letter or facsimile). Upon receipt of that information, ICE will request a meeting with federal partners, the jurisdiction, and the state to discuss any issues and come to a resolution, which may include adjusting the jurisdiction’s activation date in or removing the jurisdiction from the deployment plan.

What documents were worth transferring to the new site? “Benefits for Law Enforcement” is still linked, as is a memo called “National Sheriffs’ Association Resolution of Support.” “Success Stories” also appears to have been moved to the new website.

The blog Deportation Nation claimed yesterday that ICE added a new document called “What Others are Saying about Secure Communities” to its page on the program during the website redesign. The memo is dated June 2010. It features 11 testimonials — all positive — on the program from sheriffs, homeland security experts and politicians.

Not to imply that Secure Communities is universally unpopular; the program has been lauded for netting large numbers of illegal immigrants and allowing ICE to increase deportations. Still, it’s worth noting that it’s got some opposition: San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey has pushed for his county to be removed from the program, and officials in Santa Clara, Calif., Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., have also attempted to opt out.

Note: Thanks to Kat Lucero, a journalism grad student at Georgetown University, for pointing this out.

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