Must stop the deportation of undocumented Democrats no matter how dangerous they are to American society.
RALEIGH — Federal officials are scaling back a program that enlists the aid of local police and sheriff’s offices to identify people who are in the country illegally, in favor of a national program that uses fingerprints collected by the FBI.
U.S. Immigrations Customs and Enforcement officials say the so-called 287(g) program that includes Wake County will continue at least until the end of the year. But ICE says the program is under review, and that it will no longer train local police under the program or give them the authority to question, investigate and arrest people they suspect are in the country illegally.
The change moves the government away from an approach to immigration enforcement that has been popular among some law enforcement agencies but has drawn fire from civil rights groups, who say it encourages local police and sheriff’s deputies to unfairly target Latinos. The Department of Homeland Security is still reviewing 57 complaints against the Wake County program, and ICE suspended its 287(g) agreement with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office after the U.S. Justice Department found deputies there were exceeding their authority by checking the immigration status of Latinos on the street.
…Secure Communities allows federal officers to detect illegal immigrants by comparing the fingerprints of those arrested by local police, which are routinely shared with the FBI, with prints in immigration databases. ICE says the system is simply a smarter way to do business.
“The Secure Communities screening process, coupled with federal officers, is more consistent, efficient and cost-effective in identifying and removing criminal and other priority aliens,” said Vincent Picard, a spokesman with ICE’s southern region in Atlanta.
Evolution of the program
Secure Communities has its roots in the Criminal Alien Program, a federal initiative enacted nearly three decades ago to identify people behind bars who were in the country illegally. That program was replaced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by 287(g), said Paromita Shah, associate director of the lawyers guild’s National Immigration Project.
Shah said the fingerprint identification system can sift through lots of data in a short period of time, but that poses a problem: It has a 5 percent margin of error that results in some U.S. citizens being among the 30,000 people being held each day in 400 federally authorized jails across the country on immigration charges, she said.
“Secure Communities is the Criminal Alien Program on steroids,” Shah said.
But others say Secure Communities is an improvement over 287(g) and its reliance on local law enforcement officers.
David Blair, spokesman for the watchdog group Fairness Alamance in Burlington, says he knows some Latino advocates vigorously oppose Secure Communities, but he prefers a wait-and-see attitude.
“What’s good about Secure Communities is that it focuses on the removal of criminals out of the country, people who are guilty of felonies and other serious crimes,” said Blair, an advertising executive. “It is under the control of the federal government, which has a greater respect for civil rights law and constitutional protection.”
Under the 287(g) program, the federal government empowered local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law in one of two ways. The one scheduled for elimination next year allowed local officers, trained by ICE, to question and investigate the immigration status of someone before arrest.
The other agreement, used by Wake and Alamance counties, allowed local officers to check someone’s immigration status only after he or she had been brought to the jail on some other criminal charge.