Thus far Secure Communities has encountered no opposition in Congress and little public concern as it pushes its way into local law enforcement throughout the country. That’s understandable, given that its promise to make communities more secure and its focus on criminal aliens.
Also making Secure Communities attractive is the easy, no-cost integration into the booking and fingerprinting processes overseen by local police and sheriff deputies. Unlike the more controversial 287 (g) program, which cross-deputizes local law enforcement officers but provides no compensation for the added immigration enforcement expenses, Secure Communities comes with little cost.
The program is being totally underwritten by the federal government. The $200 million program, part of a larger $1.4 billion ICE budget for its criminal alien efforts, is slated for a $39 million budget increase in 2010.
Under Secure Communities, local law-enforcement jurisdictions simply agree to add simultaneous searches of DHS and FBI databases after fingerprinting arrestees. If there is a match, ICE is automatically notified electronically, and then ICE decides if it will request a detainer for identified immigrant.
Recognizing that other federal/local collaborative programs sponsored by ICE have led to widespread complaints of “racial profiling” by local police, David Venturella, director of Secure Communities, told the Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, that such complaints will be minimized under the new program, which checks the FBI and DHS data on all those booked in cooperating state and local jails. As Venturella explained, “The fingerprints of all persons arrested and booked will be processed through the system, regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity.
There is still very little known how Secure Communities works in the field, but among the initial concerns are the following:
* Lack of regulated prioritization.
* Checked whether innocent or guilty.
* Expansive definition of criminal alien.
* Undermining community trust in public safety.
Next: Lack of Regulated Prioritization in Secure Communities