What Is the Secure Communities Program?
Author: New York Immigration Attorney
Secure Communities is an ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) program that uses the already established connection between ICE and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) to identify illegal immigrants involved in criminal activity. The Secure Communities program allows ICE to function without imposing responsibilities on local authorities. ICE and the FBI share fingerprints and other information for individuals under arrest or who are booked and taken into custody. The program allows both agencies to determine whether individuals are present illegally and whether they have criminal records. ICE can prioritize its removal based on involvement in criminal activity and whether the individual poses a public safety threat by evaluating the seriousness of crimes, criminal history and other information.
When Secure Communities program is in operation, the federal government alone evaluates whether immigration enforcement is necessary, which takes immigration enforcement out of the hands of local governments. Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers base their immigration decisions on arrests for local, state or federal criminal violations. Immigration law violations are separate offenses from other crimes committed and the federal government imposes penalties based on immigration laws.
ICE indicated that as of the end of August 2012, Secure Communities identified more then 166,000 immigrants convicted of crimes, which led to their removal. More than 61,000 of those immigrants had aggravated felony convictions. Child sexual abuse and murder were among the immigrants’ felony convictions. As a result of the Secure Communities program and other similar programs, ICE removed more convicted criminal immigrants (89 percent of those removed) than ever before. In addition, non-criminal removals dropped by 29 percent.
If facing deportation or other immigration issues with ICE, find out how a New York immigration lawyer can help.