U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement touts an 18-month-old program in which county jails forward suspects’ fingerprints to Homeland Security as a key tool in quickly identifying dangerous foreign criminals. The Miami Herald says that ICE documents released by immigrant and civil rights activists contradict the agency’s claim, says an analysis by advocates from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the immigration justice clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, both in New York City. The activists say that 79 percent of people deported in connection with the “Secure Communities” program were non-criminals or had been picked up by local police for relatively minor offenses including traffic violations or petty juvenile mischief.
Immigrant-rights advocates believe ICE has become a rogue agency bent on undermining civil rights and President Obama’s stated policy of focusing on dangerous foreign criminals first. ICE says Secure Communities assists the agency in quickly identifying dangerous foreign criminals so they can be placed in deportation proceedings before being released on bail or their own recognizance. The agency did not dispute the activists’s findings. ICE reiterated its belief that Secure Communities is crucial to shielding U.S. communities from dangerous foreign criminals.