Secure Communities

Immigration policies are often divisive, and Obama’s “Secure Communities” program is no exception.  Secure Communities is intended to remove illegal immigrants who have criminal records, by allowing ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to partner with local law enforcement agencies across the U.S.  When a person is arrested for committing a crime, his or her fingerprints are taken by the local law enforcement agency and then sent to the FBI to check against its immigration files.  Critics of the Secure Communities program argue that it is causing more than just those illegal immigrants with criminal records to be arrested and detained.  In this video from PBS’ Frontline, for example, a woman with a family of five children is pulled over for failing to signal when changing lanes.  She is subsequently arrested for not having appropriate identification and has been detained due to her status as an illegal immigrant, despite the fact that she has no criminal record.  Some legislators have begun to work on laws that would prevent women like her from being swept into a system in which she was not intended to be.


  1. While the plight of this woman is sad and unfortunate, the fact of the matter is, the US had a legal procedure for becoming a citizen. Furthermore, it is well within the right of the government to set its own immigration and naturalization policies. Illegal immigrants to pose a drain on public resources while offering nothing to the tax base. As I recently posted to this blog, deportations have hit a record high over the last calendar year, much of it the result of these priorities placed on deporting certain target groups, such as those illegal immigrants with criminal records. Furthermore, given the strains placed on the criminal justice system, it seems a wise objective to target such high priority individuals. If anything, such a policy is more about fighting crime than it is about immigration. As I indicated in my prior posting, Homeland Security reviewing 300,000 deportation cases and suspending those of “lower priority,” essentially creating back-door amnesty policy. I would imagine it likely that this woman’s case would fall into this situation and despite the troubles, her tale will conclude with a happy ending. While her situation certainly evokes sympathy on many levels, we nonetheless do have to keep in mind that she is violating laws which this country is well within its rights to promote and enforce and there is legitimacy to the view that the laws should be enforced uniformly without exceptions.

  2. While I understand the logic behind Obama’s “Secure Communities” program, I think that in reality such programs are applied unjustly. A few year ago, I had the opportunity to intern at a government office in my home town and on two separate occasions, both of which I remember quite well, two of the people who came in for meetings ended up behind hauled away to immigration despite the fact that both of them had wives and young children to support. However, the thing that bothered me the most about this was not the problems previously mentioned but the lack of uniformity. Of the two people that were taken away, both of them had minor criminal records and were making real progress. In contrast, I remember at least five other people who were also illegal, one in particular who had a long criminal record and who in fact had in fact just been rearrested the month before, but Immigration decided not to touch him even when my supervisor suggested if anyone should be deported it was him.
    Granted, this is just an isolated incident from my own experience, but from everything else I have seen and heard I have no doubt that this type of discriminatory applications of such laws it fairly common place. Moreover, if there is going to be disparity in a law, shouldn’t it favor those who are guilty of less serious crimes rather than giving more dangerous people a free pass?

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