The federal government says that it has made it a priority to protect the communities it serves by administering the Secure Communities program which they argued was a simple and common sense way to carry out the goal and priorities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by removing criminal aliens that pose a threat to public safety of the United States.
When it comes to enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and state and local law enforcement share information that they say helps locate and identify only those people that are criminal aliens. Our state and local law enforcement officials in Massachusetts had been cooperating with these agencies by sharing certain identifying information and fingerprints to locate immigrant aliens charged with crimes in Massachusetts. When immigration detainers have been lodged against alleged criminal aliens in our courts the government can hold people in jail and start deportation proceedings against them.
Yesterday, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced in a letter to federal officials that he will consider withdrawing the Boston Police from the Secure Communities program because ICE has been heavy-handed and has not limited its deportations to only those immigrants involved in serious crimes like rape and murder.
The Obama administration has already heard so much criticism from members of his Democratic base and others in Congress that it has considered changing or altering the way the program is administered. The outrage stems from the fact that immigrant aliens, many of whom are hard working and peacefully living in this country, are being detained and deported at an alarming rate. Many have only had a minor brush with the law but are being needlessly detained by the government. Also, victims of domestic abuse, witnesses, and people who were arrested but not convicted are being negatively affected by the Secure Communities Program.
Although the Secure Communities program in Boston began as a pilot program in 2006, it officially began in 2008 and has now expanded to several cites and towns in more that 40 states across the country.
The ability of the government to share fingerprints with state and local law enforcement has helped ICE locate and deport an increasing number of illegal immigrants with criminal records or additional immigration violations. It is a major factor for the surge in deportations of convicted criminals in two years from about 115,000 people in 2008 to approximately 196,000 last year alone.
If you or someone you care about has been illegally detained by law enforcement or ICE because of a minor or serious crime with the prospect of deportation, please contact Attorney Patrick Murphy as soon as possible for a free and helpful legal consultation on your case.
The Boston Globe, July 11, 2011 The Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2011 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement