Last week a Homeland Security Council Task Force released a report on Secure Communities, a program administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that targets the removal of immigrants who have committed crimes and “pose a threat to public safety.” Despite the program’s aims, many of the people detained through the Secure Communities program have not committed crimes. In response to significant public backlash, ICE created the task force comprised of law enforcement officials, attorneys, immigration experts, and government officials to review the program and to provide recommendations to improve the program’s tactics and initiatives.
While the program was created to protect communities from dangerous criminals, the task force concluded that the program has suffered from several unintended consequences. For example, the report notes that the program may be eroding the trust between law enforcement officials and the immigrant communities that they serve. Additionally, the Task Force also acknowledged that many low-level offenders, even victims of crime, were being targeted by this program.
In its recommendations, the Task Force urged ICE not to target individuals identified through Secure Communities for minor traffic offenses, and recommended that ICE ensure the protection of victims of domestic violence, as well as victims and witnesses of other violent crimes.
Many of the issues included in the report and expressed by communities across the United States in response to the expansion of the Secure Communities program reinforce the need to overhaul the U.S. immigration system to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented workers and their families, protect families, and ensure the humane enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. If U.S. laws and policies prevent victims and witnesses of violent crime from coming forward, we are all at risk.
To join the movement in support of fair and humane reforms to the U.S. immigration system, visit the LIRS Action Center.