Secure Communities Mandatory for Local Law Enforcement: ICE Memo


Two years after the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program was implemented, federal officials determined that choices available to local law enforcement agencies that wished to decline or limit their participation would be “streamlined” or “eliminated,” making the information-sharing program mandatory, according to a memo recently made public and quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Launched in 2008, Secure Communities was promoted to local and state leaders as a way to focus immigration enforcement efforts on “serious convicted criminals.”

The program, which involves the FBI sharing fingerprints collected from county jails with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has come under fire because a large percentage of immigrants caught up in the system were never convicted of a crime or were low-level offenders. Federal officials initially said there were ways for state and local officials to drop out of the program. In a 9-page memo dated Oct. 2, 2010, a legal advisor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said at that time that “choices available to law enforcement agencies who have thus far decided to decline or limit their participation in current information-sharing processes will be streamlined and aspects eliminated. In that way, the process, in essence, becomes ‘mandatory’ in 2013.”

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