Monday, June 20, 2011

Illegal immigration: Government alters Secure Communities deportations -

Illegal immigration: Government alters Secure Communities deportations -

The Secure Communities program, which was intended to identify and deport convicted felons, wound up also ensnaring minor offenders, victims of domestic abuse and other crimes, as well as witnesses to crimes and people who were arrested but not convicted of offenses.

In response, U.S. Homeland Security officials announced Friday that the department had issued new guidelines in an effort to stop immigration officers from deporting people who were arrested while reporting a crime, or who were witnesses in a potential criminal investigation or trial. The guidelines also give prosecutors more discretion on whom to deport.

"We are listening to those concerns and addressing them head on today," John Morton, director of ICE, told reporters in a conference call Friday.

Under the new guidelines, he said, immigration officers will be instructed not to deport individuals who are victims of a crime or witnesses in a criminal case. Particular care will be taken to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are not being deported after reporting abuse to police, he said.

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