Before the Administration enacted their deportation review, I wrote about the series of protests at Secure Communities task force hearings, where Latino activists denounced the program that has resulted in mass deportations of undocumented immigrants despite assurances that only violent criminals would be swept up. The activists called on the task force members to resign, and to recommend that the Secure Communities program be terminated.
The task force released its findings yesterday, and they were sharply critical.
A task force advising an Obama administration deportation program has sharply criticized immigration officials for creating confusion about its purposes and has found that the program had an “unintended negative impact” on public safety in local communities.
In a report on the program, known as Secure Communities, the task force said that the program had eroded public trust by leading to the detention of many immigrants who had not committed serious crimes, after officials said its aim was to remove “the worst of the worst” immigrant criminals from the United States. The task force report was completed Wednesday.
The report also said that immigration officials had created tensions with local authorities by making inconsistent statements on whether states and cities were required to participate.
In the most significant of its recommendations, the task force said that fingerprint identifications through the program should no longer lead federal agents to deport immigrants arrested by local police officers for minor traffic violations.
That’s essentially saying that the program should be sharply curtailed. But this wasn’t good enough for 5 of the 19 members of the task force. They resigned rather than endorse the recommendations. This includes the former police chief of Sacramento, who ran the hearing I went to in Los Angeles.
In a letter submitted Wednesday, representatives of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and two unions of immigration officers said they were resigning from the task force because the final report “demonstrates a clear absence of our voice.” They did not detail their disagreements.
Arturo Venegas, the former police chief of Sacramento, and director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, a police organization, said in a resignation letter that the recommendations did not go far enough to ensure that immigrants detained for minor offenses would not be deported. A representative of the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group, also resigned.
Good for them. This shows the serious dissension even among the group handpicked by the director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
The effect of Secure Communities has been to alienate local Latino communities from law enforcement. People don’t report crimes because they don’t want to get caught up in a situation that could lead to deportation. Law enforcement is losing valuable intelligence capabilities and has broken trust with the communities they police. And it has nothing to do with them, but with this federal mandate. Secure Communities is leading indirectly to an atmosphere where crime can increase.
John Morton of ICE plans to meet with the task force members who resigned. Meanwhile, the deportation review of hundreds of thousands of people caught in this dragnet continues.