Report: Secure Communities immigration program deporting mostly low-level criminals
Immigration and Customs Enforcement data received through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that Secure Communities, a federal immigration enforcement program, detains and deports people who are not criminals.
In a press release issued last week, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network indicates that:
“Nationally, 1 in 4 people deported under S-Comm haven’t been convicted of any crime. That ratio jumps to over 50% in Palm Beach, in Miami, and in multiple examples across the country[,]” [e]xplained Bridget Kessler of Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. “Those numbers raise questions about how S-Comm may allow local police to cover up profiling and circumvent due process.”
When questioned during a recent House Appropriations Committee Hearing on March 11th, Director of ICE John Morton admitted,, “we do in fact remove non-criminals through Secure Communities.”
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE), Secure Communities allows local law enforcement agencies to compare the fingerprints of every person arrested and booked with FBI criminal history records and Department of Homeland Security immigration records.
In Florida, workers, immigrant advocates, religious leaders and business groups have focused their opposition on two immigration enforcement bills: state Rep. William Snyder’s H.B. 7089 and Sen. Anitere Flores’ S.B. 2040. Both have provisions that would make programs such as Secure Communities a permanent part of law enforcement in Florida.
Secure Communities uses a three-level system to determine the type of crime a detainee has committed. Level 1 refers to offenders convicted of aggravated felonies, Level 2 includes those convicted of felonies or three or more misdemeanors and Level 3 indicates misdemeanor convictions.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network press release explains that ICE “began issuing quarterly reports as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law.”
This new analysis of ICE data shows that five Florida jurisdictions where Secure Communities is being implemented are among the top 20 jurisdictions with the highest numbers of deportations of non-criminals.
The data also show that under Secure Communities in Florida, from October 2008 through February 2011, over 14,100 people were arrested or booked into ICE custody. Of that total, more than 4,600 were Level 1 or dangerous criminals, more than 1,800 were Level 2 detainees, almost 2,500 were Level 3 detainees and more than 5,100 were non-criminals.
In the same period, out of more than 6,000 detainees who were removed from the U.S., at least 2,500 were non-criminal detainees — compared to 1,200 who were Level 1 or dangerous criminals. Non-criminal and Level 3 detainees made up about 60 percent of people removed.
In a community forum held last week in Florida City, participants warned that if the current immigration bills become law in Florida the reality of arbitrary arrests and deportation would be an economic burden for Florida taxpayers and increase violations of due process.