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Federal Judge To Feds: Hand Over “Potentially Embarrassing” Documents On Secure Communities

by Mahwish Khan on 07/19/2011 at 9:00am

Secure CommunitiesA welcome development in the Secure Communities saga: A federal judge in New York has demanded that the feds hand over some “potentially embarrassing” documents relating to the Secure Communities program. According to Talking Points Memo:

According to Judge Shira Scheindlin, federal immigration authorities seem to “have gone out of their way to mislead the public” about the program known as Secure Communities, and they’ve issued mixed messages about whether the program is optional or not.

Previously, there was confusion about whether or not States were allowed to opt-out of the Secure Communities program once they had joined.  In fact, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at one point issued statements calling for an investigation into the program, maintaining that DHS had not been very transparent re: it’s opt out policies (ie: whether or not there even was one). Then, only last week, the answer to that question was answered when it was found out that the FBI is the reason that states are forced to comply with the unpopular program. According to the Huffington Post, the Secure Communities program is part of a more intrusive scheme, with even greater privacy issues known as the “Next Generation Initiative.”

As we’ve previously reported, the Secure Communities progam has been promoted as a tool to catch and deport undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes. It seems like a program that we could all get behind if the program really did support its intended goal, which is essentially to weed out the bad guys. But that’s not what this program is doing. The program is resulting in the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants whose only “crime” has been to be in the country without papers — 61% of whom were never convicted of a crime or were involved in low-level offenses, like traffic violations.  They are precisely the type of people DHS admits aren’t “enforcement priorities.”

The program has also faced staunch opposition from the law enforcement communities, faith groups, and a number of politicians who have found that the threat posed to communities with this program in place is higher than the overall advantage, which amounts to zero.  

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