The Obama administration is likely to overhaul the Secure Communities program, which allows the federal government to partner with local law enforcement agencies to identify illegal immigrants for deportation, police chiefs tell the Washington Post. Several chiefs who attended a meeting at the White House yesterday said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson indicated he was planning to revamp the program. Immigrant advocates say Secure Communities has improperly targeted undocumented immigrants who are arrested for relatively minor violations and have no prior record other than being in the country illegally.
Johnson is conducting an internal review of the administration's immigration enforcement policies at the request of President Obama, who has been under pressure from advocates to stem deportations. Johnson told the chiefs that “Secure Communities had a false start and a lot of people did not understand what it is,” said Art Acevedo, the police chief of Austin. “The sense I got is that we are going to see a reboot of Secure Communities, and once that comes out, you'll see a singular focus in state and local counties on violent criminals.” The Obama administration is trying to keep pressure on Republicans in the House to support a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, an effort that has been stalled in that chamber since the Senate approved a bipartisan plan last June. The White House believes the next few months before the House takes summer recess in August are critical. Obama said during a brief appearance with the police chiefs that time is running out.