Yesterday, law enforcement leaders and elected officials held a telephonic press conference to share their concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Secure Communities Program.
The Secure Communities program 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 — that’s if the program really did support its intended goal, which is essentially to get rid of the bad guys.
However, that’s not what this program is doing.
The Secure Communities program — or S-Comm, as it’s popularly known – is resulting in the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants whose only “crime” has been to be in the country without papers. In one of our earlier blog posts on Secure Communities, Lynn Tramonte points out the problems that the program will cause:
Secure Communities is actually breeding insecure communities. When immigrants are whisked away for deportation after being stopped for a broken taillight, it sends a clear message to other residents: police are on the hunt for immigrants, not criminals.
In fact, according to government statistics, more than 60% of immigrants deported under the program were involved in low-level, minor offenses like traffic violations, or were never convicted at all. In Illinois 35% of those deported were non criminals, and 69% were either non criminals or had low-level offenses.
According to Walter Tejada, Arlington County Board Member, Arlington, Virginia:
Only 15% of immigrants identified through S-Comm were level 1 offenses.
Law enforcement officials on the call explained that the Secure Communities Program has hindered their ability to fight crime and keep their communities safe. It has damaged the relationship between the police and the community leaving many cases unreported.