ICE: Secure Communities program not optional

the suspect’s immigration status and begin deportation proceedings if necessary.

ICE hopes to be checking fingerprints collected from more than 30,000 booking sites in the country by 2013.

As of 1 February 2011, Secure Communities had 1,006 cities and counties in 38 states, according to ICE. The program is credited with the deportations of at least 58,300 immigrants convicted of crimes.

Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, a Latino immigrant advocacy group in Somerville, Mass., said the documents showed federal officials are giving local officials “mixed messages” and only added to the “confusion and fear” among various immigrant communities.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has delayed enrolling his state in the program, but has said states are required to join, upsetting some advocates.

How are you going to make decisions based on information that is not clear?” said Montes. “This has to do with lives of people.”

A document title “Setting the Record Straight” published by ICE last year aimed to correct what officials saw as misinformation issued by advocates. The publication drew more criticism for obscuring the options communities would have in regards to opting-out of the SC program.

In an attempt at clarification, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote instructions on who communities should contact if they wanted to opt out. The rules first allowed meetings to be held to discuss the communities’ concerns and possibly resolve them, but later some communities were told it was up to their states, not them.

It seems like a lot of states and LEAs (law enforcement agencies) don’t want to say they support this due to political pressures, and want us to make it mandatory to let them off the hook. Would you support a new strategy for activations?” Susan Penney of Secure Communities said in a 10 February 2010 e-mail.

As the District of Columbia’s city council considered a bill last summer prohibiting police from participating in the program, ICE considered cutting off money the federal government pays local communities for holding immigrants.

Grants should be denied them in the future if the bill referred to below by (name redacted) passes. It is absurd to claim that the presence of illegal aliens in your jails is an undue burden at the same time you refuse to cooperate with ICE in removing them,” said a 5 May 2010 email sent to Susan Penney and others with the subject “FW: Update on DC.”

In a 29 September 2010 e-mail, Gibson suggested refusing to give criminal history information from the FBI to local officials who didn’t participate. “If you want their data, you play ball with all federal partners,” she said in her e-mail.