How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The scene at an LA immigration protest this week (Video)

Videographer Mae Ryan was at an immigration rally earlier this week outside the federal building in downtown Los Angeles that led to several arrests. The protesters were calling for an end to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's controversial Secure Communities enforcement program, to which there has been growing opposition since the federal government canceled state agreements to the program earlier this month, insisting it is mandatory.

Secure Communities allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be shared with immigration authorities. The federal government has defended the practice as a necessary law enforcement tool, while opponents say it alienates immigrant communities from police by casting too wide of a net.

The arrests were made after protesters, among them undocumented college students, allegedly blocked traffic; some blocked a ramp used by immigration buses. Ryan interviewed protesters and counter-protesters, who rallied nearby.

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Who is a 'low priority' under DHS deportation guidelines?

Photo by davipt/Flickr (Creative Commons)

After yesterday's announcement from the Department of Homeland Security that it will review some 300,000 cases of immigrants in the deportation pipeline, potentially sparing many from removal, a Obama administration official posting on the White House Blog linked to "common sense guidelines" that will be applied in deciding who goes and who stays.

An excerpt from what was posted by Cecilia Muñoz, White House intergovernmental affairs director:

So DHS, along with the Department of Justice, will be reviewing the current deportation caseload to clear out low-priority cases on a case-by-case basis and make more room to deport people who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk. And they will take steps to keep low-priority cases out of the deportation pipeline in the first place. They will be applying common sense guidelines to make these decisions, like a person’s ties and contributions to the community, their family relationships and military service record.

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Backlash over former NCLR official's defense of Secure Communities

Photo by Corey Moore/KPCC

Protesters in Los Angeles, August 15, 2011

UPDATE: In a new White House blog post, Muñoz goes on to clarify the White House's deportation policies in light of an announcement this afternoon from DHS that, if it works as planned, should spare many "low priority" potential deportees. She writes:

Today, they announced that they are strengthening their ability to target criminals even further by making sure they are not focusing our resources on deporting people who are low priorities for deportation. This includes individuals such as young people who were brought to this country as small children, and who know no other home. It also includes individuals such as military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel.

More details soon on what the changes announced entail.

A recent Obama administration defense of the controversial Secure Communities immigration enforcement program has drawn a backlash, but this time, it has as much to do with who provided the defense as what was said.

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Does Secure Communities undermine L.A.'s Special Order 40?

Photo courtesy of Will Coley

A camera operator rests on the mock coffin as Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, addresses a Homeland Security panel Monday, August 15, 2011

On Monday night, as protestors and speakers sounded off on the federal government's Secure Communities immigration enforcement program during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, one recurring theme involved a local police policy enacted more than three decades ago.

"The trust factor is undermining Special Order 40," said Marielena Hincapié of the National Immigration Law Center, a legal advocacy organization, to a panel assembled by the Department of Homeland Security to gather input on the controversial fingerprint-sharing program. In the crowd, protesters held a large black mock coffin reading "RIP Special Order 40."

What is Special Order 40, and how does Secure Communities conflict with it, if it does? And how does Secure Communities compare with 287(g), an older federal-local law enforcement partnership used in jails to identify deportable immigrants? It's complicated, but the workings of all three are worth a look.

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Secure Communities opponents protest in L.A.

Photo by Corey Moore/KPCC

Protesters outside Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles, August 15, 2011

KPCC's Corey Moore snapped this photo today at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in downtown Los Angeles, where about 50 people gathered to protest the controversial federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities.

Critics of the program have become more vocal in the last week, after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton sent a letter to state governors rescinding the agreements between the federal government and states participating in the fingerprint-sharing program. The governors of three states and various local governments had announced a desire to withdraw from the program, which allows for the fingerprints of people booked at local jails to be shared with immigration officials. ICE officials have said the program is mandatory, and that state and local governments can't opt out.

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