A 2-year-old Department of Homeland Security program deported 392,000 foreign nationals in the past 12 months. Dallas-based immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz of the firm Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz weighs in on the pitfalls of the program.
The program, Secure Communities, allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to examine detainee fingerprints sent from local law enforcement agencies. ICE searches for a fingerprint match in the Department of Homeland Security databases, which contains data on both lawful and unlawful foreign nationals. ICE then makes a determination whether to initiate removal proceedings.
Opponents of the program argue that it is open to abuse because an individual’s immigration history is investigated regardless of the crime.
“This leaves the door open to a pretext arrest of a person whom the police believe looks like an illegal immigrant,” said Dallas-based immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “If the police are correct, ICE will detain and remove the person and there will never be trial on the charges prompting the arrest. Police only need to allege the commission of a crime – regardless of probable cause.”There are no safeguards in place to prevent this from happening, as ICE does not monitor local law enforcement agencies for procedural or civil rights violations.
Proponents of the program cite the removal of large numbers of foreign nationals from the United States and frequently look no further. But the Department of Homeland Security and ICE set annual priorities, and chief among them is the removal of dangerous, criminal aliens from the United States.
Measured by the number of dangerous criminals removed, ICE’s own statistics reveal that Secure Communities has been ineffective. From October 2009 to August 2010, only 16 percent of people deported were found to have committed serious crimes. “The program is supposed to protect the U.S. from people who pose a danger to public safety, but it ends up doing much more than that. It deports people who pose no threat, while dangerous criminal aliens still remain at large,” Rabinowitz said. “Secure Communities as an unchecked federal program enables racial profiling.”
And the Department of Homeland Security has told those localities that have decided to no longer participate in Secure Communities because of its perceived adverse affects on police-community relations that localities cannot opt out of the program.
ICE plans to extend the program to every state in the U.S. by next year, and hopes to be in all 3,100 state and local jails by 2013.
To learn more about Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C., call 1.972.233.6200 or visit http://www.rabinowitzrabinowitz.com.