ICE Says Secure Communities Will Stay Active Even if States Opt-Out

ICE says it has decided to “terminate” contracts with states for its increasingly unpopular Secure Communities program. But that doesn’t mean the data-sharing enforcement program will stop.

The announcement came in a letter to state governors that seeks to “clarify an issue that has been the subject of substantial confusion” as ICE continues its plan to implement the program nationwide by 2013.

“Once a state or local law enforcement agency voluntarily submits fingerprint data to the federal government, no agreement with the state is legally necessary for one part of the federal government to share it with another part,” reads the letter.

Currently 1,508 jurisdictions are activated in 44 states and territories – including Puerto Rico.

In recent months Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have all tried to suspend or cancel their agreements to share arrest data from local jails with ICE, citing fear within immigrant communities that any contact with police could lead to deportation, along with concerns about racial profiling and unjust deportations.

These states have yet to respond to the announcement but advocates there have been quick to condemn it. ICE is “rogue agency” that “is trying to rule by fiat,” said Fred Tsao of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights policy director.

Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said ICE had wasted the time of both willing and resistant officials with”protracted negotiations–at substantial cost to the American public–for what it now claims are sham contracts.”

In its letter, ICE tried to “highlight recent improvements” to Secure Communities and noted it has appointed a task force to review the program. A nationwide series of public hearings is set to begin next week in Dallas, Texas. But now some advocates wonder whether ICE really wants feedback.

“I hope this announcement will show to people who are on the task force that ICE’s efforts to say they want to hear from the public are really just a sham and they should resign,” said Sunita Patel, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Patel is part of a team that is locked in a legal battle with ICE over the release of documents originally requested in 2009 through the Freedom of Information Act.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin has ordered ICE to hand over the public records. “The purpose of FOIA is to shed light on the operation of government, not to shield it from embarrassment,” she said in July.

ICE until August 15 to release the public records – a decision it may appeal after she already granted two extensions.

Some advocates say ICE’s announcement is an an attempt to preempt what the documents will reveal.

Here is an excerpt from the FAQ included in the letter Morton sent today to state governors:

12. Will the Secure Communities MOAs that have already been executed remain in effect?
What is the effect of a termination of a Secure Communities MOA?

Because ICE has determined that an MOA with a state is not necessary to activate or operate
Secure Communities for jurisdictions within that state, ICE has decided to terminate all
existing MOAs. For states that already terminated their MOAs, ICE will honor the state’s
desire to no longer receive information regarding the immigration status of an individual
whose fingerprint information is submitted to the federal government via the FBI, and will
cease providing the immigration status information generated through Secure Communities
to the state.

The termination of the MOAs will have no effect on the operation of Secure Communities
for any state. ICE will continue to operate Secure Communities for jurisdictions where it is
already deployed and, over the next two years, will activate the program for the remaining
jurisdictions. ICE will fully deploy Secure Communities for all jurisdictions by the end of
2013. Prior to the activation of new jurisdictions within a state, ICE will provide advance
notice to both the state and local governments.

Comments
11 Responses to “ICE Says Secure Communities Will Stay Active Even if States Opt-Out”
  1. Larry says:

    I don’t see how anyone could find Secure Communities controversial. It’s the perfect tool to remove the right illegal immigrants, and it is the best thing Obama has done. First, illegal presence is an offense that ICE has a right and duty to act on. The Dream Act, or any derivative of the Dream Act, is coming. Second, the illegal immigrant did SOMETHING to attract attention of law enforcement and to get arrested. The people getting arrested, whether they are convicted of anything or not, are the people we want removed first. I don’t understand how this is anything but a win-win.

    • Fernando says:

      Larry? Are you a white male by chance, with no illegal immigrant relatives? Illegal immigrant relatives with kids? Or maybe an illegal immigrant relative that was convicted of a crime when they were 15 and 20 years later get stopped for a minor traffic infraction and get arrested because they are someone the police believes should be and suddenly ICE is deporting them for a crime they committed 20 years ago? The same person having become a complete and utter model citizen since then?

      I almost fear your answer, but will completely understand when your Republican slanted response is posted.

      Secure Communities is a good program, I am going to agree, to get REAL CRIMINALS that are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS out of the United States and back to where they came from, but ICE’s unilateral targeting of just about anyone that is illegally in the United States is what most people are fighting against. NOT the program itself.

      • jeff says:

        Your almost right, it targets those who have been arrested by immigration authorities before then subsequently arrested by the police for an unrelated criminal violation. That’s how they know they are illegal aliens in the first place. Its simple, if you don’t respect immigration law then you don’t respect criminal law, you don’t belong here. We have enough of our own criminals to deal with. Most of those who have minor criminal histories are offered a chance to leave voluntarily. In leu of formal deportation and further incarceration without ruining their chance to enter the country legally. That is the truth of secure communities without the fear mongorinpro illegal alien groups report.

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