A task force set up by the Obama administration to ease political tensions over the Secure Communities deportation program has held the last of four public hearings, which instead helped galvanize vocal protests against the policy, says the New York Times. Immigrant, labor, and church groups walked out halfway through Wednesday night’s session in Arlington, Va., banging drums and denouncing the hearing as a sham intended to gloss over the program’s flaws.
Immigrant and Latino groups also marched out of hearings this month in Los Angeles and Chicago, calling for a halt to the program. The administration has sought to tighten the focus of its deportation strategy on illegal immigrants who also have been convicted of crimes, especially serious violent and drug offenses. “This program at its heart is about serious offenders,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum and the task force's chairman. “I don't think there is any question that a number of people being caught up in the system don't fit the criteria of serious offender.” Most people who spoke at the hearings opposed the program, but many local law enforcement and government officials expressed support. The task force will issue a report next month.