Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Secure Communities program: A flawed deportation tool - latimes.com

Secure Communities program: A flawed deportation tool - latimes.com

When federal officials first announced the Secure Communities program in 2008, they billed it as a powerful tool in the battle to identify and deport illegal immigrants who had been convicted of violent crimes. Dozens of states, including California, signed on, agreeing that police would submit the fingerprints of all arrestees to be checked against federal databases for criminal convictions and deportation orders.

But the program, once billed as a voluntary partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and localities, is now mired in controversy. The government is investigating whether it has failed to nab dangerous criminals and has instead been used to target low-level nonviolent offenders. Since its launch, more than half of those deported under Secure Communities had minor or no criminal convictions, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics. In Los Angeles County, for example, nearly half of the 11,774 deported under the program from August 2009 to January 2011 had no convictions or had committed misdemeanors. They were targeted for deportation because the program doesn't distinguish between criminals and those who illegally entered the U.S. or overstayed a visa — a civil violation.

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