New Data: Secure Communities Still Sweeping Up Low-Level Offenders, Non-Criminals

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, leads the counties enrolled in Secure Communities with the highest level of non-criminal deportations, followed by Prince George’s County in Maryland and Merced County in California, according to new data released Thursday by the Uncover the Truth Coalition.

The data provides a breakdown of jurisdictions enrolled in Secure Communities and their removal rates. It was released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the  coalition as part of an on-going FOIA request.

“Nationally, 1 in 4 people deported under S-Comm haven’t been convicted of any crime,” said Bridget Kessler of Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, one of the organizations in the Coalition. “That ratio jumps to over 50 percent in Boston, certain areas of California, and in multiple examples across the country. Those numbers raise questions about how S-Comm may allow local police to cover up profiling and circumvent due process.”

ICE also released new IDENT statistics that show immigrants with low level offenses account for a large number of those caught in the dragnet created by Secure Communities.

Of 477,035 matches, 71, 197 have been identified as level 1 offenders, while 405,838 were identified as level 2 and level 3, between October 2008 and February 2011.

Meanwhile, of the 405,838 level 2 and level 3 matches, 52,603 individuals were identified as non-criminals booked into ICE custody, while 24,884 level 2 offenders and 49,019 level 3 offenders were booked.

According to ICE, “deployment continues to be the primary driver for increased identifications.”

Secure Communities, which relies on police in local jails to enter prints of those they arrest into a joint FBI and ICE database, is currently active in 1,123 jurisdictions in 40 states. ICE plans to enroll 488 more jurisdictions by the end of FY 2011 with a goal of total deployment in 2013.

Earlier this month, ICE head John Morton testified before the Subcommittee on Homeland Security of the House Appropriations Committee, requesting $5.5 billion for his agency in FY2012, an increase of $1.3 percent that was enacted in FY2010. Of that $64 million would go to expand the Secure Communities program, adding an additional 1,594 jurisdictions to cover 96 percent of nationwide enrollment.

In the hearing, committee members asked Morton about concerns by advocates that Secure Communities wasn’t prioritizing serious offenders.

“[Secure Communities] has also identified a large number of lesser offenders and that is because the single largest class of offenders are misdemeanors – that is the biggest pool that you would be identified by a fingerprint program,” Morton said, “So we do very much prioritize our efforts but we also don’t look away on other people that are referred to us.”

Morton touched upon a possible oversight program for Secure Communities that was initially raised in DHS head Janet Napolitano’s testimony in February, hinting that it could include a statistical analysis every quarter or a case-by-case analysis.

“We are very cognizance of possibitiles of local variation rather benign or more sinister,” Morton said, “and we feel we have a responsibility to proactively look for variances that don’t make sense.”

11 Responses to “New Data: Secure Communities Still Sweeping Up Low-Level Offenders, Non-Criminals”
  1. Kathryn says:

    I am a student doing research on immigration legislation and just noticed a typo in your report (or at least an inconsistency with the most recent ICE data). From the Activated Jurisdictions report available:

    Secure Communities is active in 1,123 jurisdictions in 40 states, not 39 states.

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  4. Anna says:

    Where can I find a list of all jurisdictions by level of non-criminal deportations? I see that only data for the top 31 are listed in the article

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