HMA Fatal Accident Raises “Secure Communities” Issues


A fatal accident police say involved an illegal immigrant driving drunk has stirred outrage in Massachusetts and put Gov. Deval Patrick on the defensive for his resistance to a federal program intended to deport criminals, the New York Times reports. Nicolas Guaman of Ecuador struck and killed a young motorcyclist last week while intoxicated, dragging him for a quarter of a mile. Guaman has a previous criminal record, and many cite his case as an example of why the federal Secure Communities program is necessary.

In Secure Communities, the fingerprints of anyone booked into jail by the state and local police are sent through the FBI to the Department of Homeland Security, which tracks immigration violations. Immigration agents then decide whether to deport immigrants flagged by such checks. Patrick said in June that Massachusetts would not participate in Secure Communities, citing concerns that it casts too wide a net and leads to the deportation of immigrants with no criminal histories. The Guaman case and others — including that of Onyango Obama, a Kenyan uncle of President Obama who was arrested last month outside Boston on drunken-driving charges and found to be in violation of a 1992 deportation order — are part of a growing debate over whether Massachusetts is too easy on illegal immigrants.

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