As the federal government and state legislatures try to expand the role of police in immigration enforcement, state and local police are pushing back. In Texas, Illinois, California, and elsewhere, law enforcement leaders are speaking out against proposals to gut their community policing policies and require them to participate in the Secure Communities program. They believe these initiatives make it harder for them to protect the public from crime, and they are calling on lawmakers to stop imposing their political agendas and let state and local police do their jobs.
The state of Illinois, led by Governor Pat Quinn, this week withdrew from Secure Communities, the first time a state has attempted to pull out of the program entirely. In his letter to DHS, Governor Quinn wrote that, despite the stated purpose of Secure Communities to remove serious criminals, “more than 30% of those deported from the United States, under the program, have never been convicted of any crime, much less a serious one.”
Governor Quinn suspended the program last November after state officials concluded that the program was “flawed”; S-Comm, as it is sometimes known, will now be deactivated in the 26 (out of 102) localities that have begun participating since 2009.
In California, Secure Communities has come under particular scrutiny after internal documents obtained by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network last month revealed that ICE officials might have deliberately misled local governments into believing that they could opt out of the program. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Immigration Subcommittee, has demanded that the homeland security inspector general open an investigation into that possibility. Meanwhile, opponents of S-Comm have begun pushing the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act (“TRUST ACT”), a bill currently pending in the California Assembly, which would allow local governments to opt out of the program.