About 47,000 people have been removed or deported from the U.S. after the Homeland Security Department sifted through 3 million sets of fingerprints taken from bookings at local jails, reports the Associated Press. About one-quarter of those kicked out of the country did not have criminal records, according to government data obtained by immigration advocacy groups that have filed a lawsuit.
At issue is a fingerprint-sharing program known as Secure Communities that the government says is focused on getting rid of the “worst of the worst” criminal immigrants from the U.S. But immigration advocates say the government instead spends too much time on lower-level criminals or non-criminals. Immigration and Customs Enforcement divides crimes into three categories, with Level 1 being the most serious. Most of those deported committed Level 2 or 3 crimes or were non-criminals, a monthly report of Secure Communities statistics shows. Peter Markowitz, director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, called it a “bait and switch.”