Lawmakers and law-enforcement officials in several states are turning against a mandatory federal program that is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s immigration policy, says the Wall Street Journal. Secure Communities is designed to spot and deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. Under the program, fingerprints of people booked into a jail are transmitted to a database reviewed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. If found to be in the U.S. illegally, they can face deportation.
Recently, such states as Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and California have raised objections to the program’s real-world effects: Although designed to remove criminals from the U.S., it has led to the deportation of thousands of people without criminal records. Critics of this approach in Democratic-leaning states say it inhibits immigrants from reporting crimes, undermining public safety, and needlessly breaks up families. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn informed ICE that his state had decided to quit altogether. Secure Communities was “supposed to facilitate the removal of individuals convicted of the most serious of crimes who are residing in this country illegally,” the governor’s office said. Quinn said “more than a third” of those deported from the state through the program had never been convicted of a crime.