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Department of Homeland Security Intends to Force Illinois’ Participation in Secure Communities

by Mahwish Khan on 05/06/2011 at 3:11pm

fingerprints In response to Governor Quinn’s (see previous blog post from today) attempt to opt-out of the Secure Communities Program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is saying “No, actually.  We won’t let you.”  Elise Foley at the Huffington Post breaks the story:

The Department of Homeland Security will not allow Illinois law enforcement to stop sharing information with immigration enforcement, despite Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s request to opt-out of a controversial program, DHS officials confirmed on Thursday.

Quinn (D) announced on Wednesday he intended to withdraw from Secure Communities, an immigration enforcement program that shares fingerprints between the FBI and DHS to detect unauthorized immigrants.

But DHS officials confirmed to The Huffington Post that they will still require the state to share fingerprints with immigration enforcement — even though Quinn said he wants to terminate a memorandum of understanding with the agency to share the data.

In making this decision, DHS is flouting the state’s decision to withdraw from the program in favor of more universal immigration enforcement and likely setting the stage for a lawsuit.

The Illinois case is the latest — and farthest-reaching — in a string of confusion and misstatements from DHS over whether Secure Communities participation is voluntary. The program, a staple in the DHS’s efforts to deport record numbers of undocumented immigrants each year, has come under fire from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which called for a moratorium on Secure Communities on Thursday.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) called last week for an investigation into Secure Communities to determine whether DHS willfully deceived the public on the nature of the program.

Bills that would allow local jurisdictions to withdraw from Secure Communities, meanwhile, arecurrently working their way through state legislatures in Illinois and California.

If ICE spent its time getting criminals instead of trying to inflate deportation numbers, we wouldn’t be in this situation — and DHS knows it. We’ve noted before that Janet Napolitano, DHS Secretary, seems almost proud of her Department’s record deportation numbers, touting the numbers at Congressional hearings and in media interviews. But if DHS continues to force police departments to participate in this nefarious program, they’re doing so at the peril of making Americans a little more unsafe – all in an attempt to fill their deportation quotas

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