Leading from the Left

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More ICE

The following is a memo that Marty Rosenbluth, an Orange County resident and staff attorney for Southern Coalition for Social Justice, sent to the County Commissioners. I post it here to help folks understand the underlying issues and the questions being raised by the Sheriff's decision to participate in the "Secure Communities" program.

Brief Analysis of the “Secure Communities”

"Secure Communities will create a constant ICE presence at
every local jail,” states Executive Director for ICE Secure Communities David Venturella.
[1] In FY 2008, ICE identified and charged more than 221,000 undocumented persons in jails for immigration violations – more than triple the number charged just two years ago.[2] “Secure Communities” is a new ICE program meant to further this endeavor.

One of the key components of the “Secure Communities” plan is the distribution of integration technology that will link local law enforcement agencies to both Homeland Security and FBI biometric databases.[3] According to ICE, without Secure Communities “as part of the routine booking process, local officers submit an arrested person’s fingerprints through FBI databases to access that individual’s criminal history.”[4] With Secure Communities, “those fingerprints will also automatically be checked against DHS databases to access immigration history information. The automated process would also notify ICE when fingerprints match those of an immigration violator. ICE officers would
conduct follow up interviews and take appropriate action.”

While participation in “Secure Communities” may look appealing because of its promise to speed up existing access to the FBI database, the effect of joining Secure Communities is to give ICE unfettered access to immigration information about members of the Orange County community.Once ICE has matched the fingerprints of a detainee in Orange County jail, it is up to ICE, not the sheriff, to decide whetheror
not ICE will take action against the person. According to ICE, once a person is identified through the Secure Communities program “[r]esponses may include such actions as: (a) placing the alien immediately in ICE custody to avoid release; (b) conducting personal interviews to gather additional information from the alien; (c) placing detainers
[6]; and (d) issuing charging documents.”[7]

As with 287(g), immigration rights groups are already receiving reports of individuals being detained by ICE under Secure Communities after being arrested for minor infractions such as misdemeanors and driving related offenses (driving without a license, etc.). Even if the arrested person is eventually found innocent on the state charges or the state charges are dropped, the ICE detainer would still be in effect and ICE
can still take custody.

In its January 2007 resolution opposing cooperation with ICE, the Orange County Board of Commissioners vowed “not to enter into a
memorandum of agreement with Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws or take any other action that might result in racial profiling or create a climate of fear and hostility for any community in the County.” Joining Secure Communities stands in stark juxtaposition to the 2007 resolution.

Submitted by:
Marty Rosenbluth, Staff Attorney,
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Home address: 2737 Armfield Rd.,
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Home Phone: 919-732-5709
[1] http://www.buckscounty.org/news/2009/2009-01-07-CorrectionsICE.aspx
[2] ICE Secure Communities Fact Sheet, http://www.ice.gov/pi/news/factsheets/secure_communities.htm
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] An ICE detainer is when ICE flags an
undocumented immigrant in custody of another law enforcement agency because they
believe an immigration law has been violated. When the person finishes his or
her sentence, ICE agents pick him or her up to begin deportation proceedings.
[7] ICE Secure Communities Fact Sheet