Patt Morrison for May 24, 2011

Secure Communities up for review: is the program deporting the right people?

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John Moore/Getty Images

Undocumented immigrants from El Salvador board their deportation flight bound for San Salvador on December 8, 2010 in Mesa, Arizona.

It was a big part of the enforcement side of President Obama’s immigration policy that was intended to target hardened criminals amongst the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. Secure Communities is designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes—the fingerprints of people booked into a jail are sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and if they are found to be undocumented, they face deportation. The problem is that, according to figures from the Department of Homeland Security itself, over half of those deporting under Secure Communities had minor or no criminal convictions. The program was further muddled when there was confusion about whether it was voluntary or mandatory for states and local law enforcement agencies to participate. States across the country, including California, are moving to opt-out of the program and last week DHS agreed to conduct an internal review. Is this the right way to go about deporting illegal immigrants?


Michael Hennessey, sheriff, San Francisco County

Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies

Tom Ammiano, Assemblyman, D-13th District (San Francisco); author of AB 1081 “TRUST Act” restricting Secure Communities in California

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