Feds Taking Steps To Improve Secure Communities Program

The program is set to begin today, May 15, despite objections by the Massachusetts Governor.

, federal immigration authorities are taking steps that would mitigate concerns.

The Secure Communities program, which Massachusetts officials preparing to start today, May 15, will have local law enforcement officers run fingerprints of suspects through federal databases to determine whether a suspect is in the country illegally.

ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein said the agency's policy is confirm the program's start only after it is actually launched. 

As it prepares to roll out the program, ICE has taken the following steps to improve its implementation, according to a federal immigration official.

  • ICE plans to help protect witnesses and victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. The policy comes after concerns that immigrants would avoid reporting such crimes out of fear they would be deported.
  • Also, ICE plans to focus the program on illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes, including murder and rape and individuals who pose a threat to national security. 
  • ICE also plans to delayed detaining illegal immigrants suspected of minor motor vehicle offenses until they are convicted.
  • ICE also plans to train local law enforcement officers on how to implement the program in accordance with civil rights laws.
  • ICE will expand outreach to police and other officials to better educate them on the program.

At a at in March 2011, Megan Christopher, an attorney at , spoke about how if enacted the new federal program could break the trust between the community and the police.

It is already active in Boston. New Hampshire, Rhode Island and overall 2,792 jurisdictions in 48 states are using it, according to a federal immigration official. Nationwide activation will be complete by the end of 2013.

More than 135,000 people have been deported as a result of the program and 49,000 of those were convicted of serious crimes, according to a federal immigration official. 

"This program is not doing what was supposed to be doing. Of those arrested and deported by a pilot program, which started in Boston in 2008, 53 percent were non-criminal immigrants, only about 25 percent were what the government calls criminals."

The federally-mandated program is an added step on the federal level as far as what happens to fingerprints after someone commits a crime. Before Tuesday, local law enforcement was required to forward all finger prints to the FBI. Starting today in Massachusetts and New York, the FBI will send those fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security, where they will be screen.

Secure Communities has proven to be the single most valuable tool in allowing the agency to eliminate the ad hoc approach of the past and focus on criminal aliens and repeat immigration law violators,” said Feinstein in a statement to Patch.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) originally said Secure Communities wouldn't be mandated, but in 2011, agency officials changed their tune and cited the anti-terrorism legislation congress passed in 2002 as all they need to mandate the program nationwide - whether states wanted it or not, reported NECN.

Jim Rizoli May 15, 2012 at 02:22 PM
How anyone can be against Secure Communities is beyond me! Ten Percent of the illegals that are here are wanted criminals in their home countries. I'm talking murder, rape etc.....So by having the resources to go after them this is obviously a protection for all of us here. To say that many "non" criminals are being targeted is interesting. I guess document fraud to them is a non criminal offense. Seems to me having a false Id's, false licenses and all the other false documents out there gets many Americans put in jail today if caught with them. I guess illegals can get away with it. So what was that about "non" criminal aliens. If we could just get the FEDS to raid the Framingham adult ESL and gather up all the "non" criminal aliens in that program who are being helped by the School dept. now that would be nice step in the right direction to stop illegals from coming here. The cost of them here is huge when you add up all the benefits they are getting being here. Again....We're not against immigrants we're just not happy with the criminals in their midst and the cost of providing for all the ones here and the majority of the ones using false documents, which pretty much takes most of them in. Time for the town to take stand illegal immigration and work with the agencies tying to keep our towns safe. Why would that be a bad thing? Jim@ccfiile.com
Mark May 15, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Duval Patrick the MA Gov. wanted it stopped because it will effect the Democratic Vote in MA... BTW Obummers Aunt and Uncle both Both Illegals live here in MA and are living off the BACKS of the American TAX payer... DO THE MATH.... Duval is so in BED with O bummer that he is more focused on His buddies needs than the needs & DEMANDS of the very people he was elected to Govern.. Further proof of the on going political back Scratching that takes place in this Communist State..


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