Immigrant advocates accuse ICE of "pattern of dishonesty"

ICE's automatic fingerprinting referral system continues to come under attack

A coalition of national civil rights organizations held a August 10 press conference to discuss recently released internal government documents that they say reveal “a pattern of dishonesty” regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) program.

Representatives with the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law noted that though ICE officials have declared their intention to expand S-Comm into every jurisdiction in the country by 2013, information about the program has been scarce, and development of its operational details has been shrouded in secrecy.

The coalition also pointed to a July 27 letter that U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren recently wrote to Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder as evidence that ICE led Congress to believe that SecureComm is a voluntary, and not a mandatory, program.

In her letter, Lofgren, who is chair of the House of Representatives' subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law,  asks for “a clear opt-out procedure for municipalities that do not wish to participate in the S-Comm program."

"As we discussed, Secure Communities is a voluntary program that relies upon the resources of both of your agencies [referring to DHS and DOJ] in order to provide State, local, and federal law enforcement agencies with information related to the immigration status of persons booked into our nation's jails and prisons,” Lofgren wrote.

“I am aware that some local law enforcement agencies have expressed concern that participating in Secure Communities will present a barrier to their community policing efforts and will make it more difficult for them to implement a law enforcement strategy that meets their community’s public safety needs,” Lofgren observed.

“There appears to be significant confusion about how local law enforcement agencies may ‘opt out’ of participating in Secure Communities,” Lofgren continued.

Lofgren notes that staff from her House subcommittee were briefed on this program by ICE and were informed that localities could opt out simply by making such a request to ICE, while subsequent conversations with ICE and FBI CJIS added  to the confusion by suggesting that this might not be so.

“Please provide me with a clear explanation of how local law enforcement agencies may pot out of Secure Communities by having the fingerprints they collect and submit to the SIBs checked against criminal, not immigration, databases,” Lofgren concludes.

To date, Lofgren has not received a reply, a press spokesperson in her office confirmed.

Immigration rights advocates charge that S-Comm, which is operative in 544 jurisdictions in 27 states, functions like the controversial 287(g) program and Arizona’s SB1070, making state and local police central to the enforcement of federal immigration law.

They say the program, which automatically runs fingerprints through immigration databases for all people arrested, targets them for detention and deportation even if their criminal charges are minor, eventually dismissed, or the result of an unlawful arrest.

After reviewing the recently released ICE documents and other information, advocates for NDLON said they found evidence supporting their claim that ICE has been dishonest with the public and with local law enforcement regarding S-Comm’s true mission and impact.

“While ICE markets S-Comm as an efficient, narrowly tailored tool that targets ‘high threat’ immigrants, it actually functions as a dragnet for funneling people into the mismanaged ICE detention and removal system,” stated a NDLON press release. “ICE’s own records show that the vast majority (79 percent) of people deported due to S-Comm are not criminals or were picked up for lower level offenses.”

They also charge that the program serves as a smokescreen for racial profiling, allowing police officers to stop people based solely on their appearance and arrest non-citizens, knowing that they will be deported, even if they were wrongfully arrested and are never convicted.

“Preliminary data confirms that some jurisdictions, such as Maricopa County Arizona, have abnormally high rates of non-criminal S-Comm deportations,” NDLON continued.

 “Lastly, the impression ICE fosters that S-Comm is not mandatory and jurisdictions can opt out is riddled with questions,” they conclude.

 “These records reveal a dangerous trend,” said NDLON Executive Director Pablo Alvarado. “This program creates an explosion of Arizona-like enforcement at a time when the results have proven disastrous. Thanks to S-Comm, we face the potential proliferation of racial profiling, distrust of local police, fear, and xenophobia to every zip code in America.”

 “S-Comm co-opts local police departments to do ICE’s dirty work at significant cost to community relations and police objectives,” said CCR attorney Sunita Patel. “Without full and truthful information about the program’s actual mission and impact, police are operating in the dark. The bottom line is that thrusting police into the business of federal immigration enforcement isn’t good for anyone.”

 “ICE is racing forward imposing its S-Comm program on new states and localities every day, without any meaningful dialog or public debate,” warned Bridget Kessler, a teaching fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The three organizations vow to litigate for the release of more data and records “to uncover the truth behind S-Comm and other ICE efforts to draft local police into immigration enforcement.”

Also speaking at the Aug. 10 press conference was San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey. Earlier this summer, Hennessey blew the whistle on S-COmm, after attending a meeting in May at which ICE revealed it was going to switch the program on in San Francisco in June.

But despite Hennessey’s efforts to opt San Francisco out of the program, S-Comm went live June 8 in San Francisco.

“We were told we could opt out through the State Attorney General’s Office,” Hennessey said, recalling how AG Jerry Brown’s office told him that San Francisco could only opt out through the feds.

“We were given the run around,” Hennessey said.“It’s a program forced upon individual local law enforcement agencies, no matter what the local community wants,” Hennessey said.

Henessey worries that the program is having a chilling effect on community policy efforts.

“Witnesses and victims of crime won’t come forward for fear they will be deported,” he said.

Henessey notes that ICE has detained folks who were arrested for minor traffic violations, and whose charges were subsequently dropped, as well as folks with no criminal records.

“My Board of Supervisors, my Police Commission and my mayor have said they would rather not participate in deportations at that level,” Hennessey noted.

He worries that the program could be expanded to include employment record checks.

“They say the program won’t be used for civil purposes, but it’s already being used for federal employment checks,” Hennessey said. “This further isolates minority communities from the mainstream."


Illegal is illegal if the immigrants are hear lawfully follow the procedures then why would they have to worry. Asking people for their ID/Driver's License is something that everyone carries with them. your supposed to carry your license while driving at all times or receive a ticket for not having it. you need you ID whenever you go to the hospital or clinic, you need your ID at the bank. People complaining of this must really be illegal immigrants because every U.S. citizen does it all the time anyway it is already required.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 11, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

Why are people complaining of this. If the government was more connected with all the states in regards to this they would be doing it also. The only reason people would be concerned is if they were illegal being in this country in the first place.This is just a more efficient way of making sure that there is not any illegal immigrants here.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 11, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

There will always be some undocumented immigrants in this country, regardless of what measures are used. As much as many people enjoy their cathartic venting of hating undocumented immigrants, the same people also choose to ignore the employers who hire the undocumented migrant workers. They also deliberately choose to ignore the outsourcing of jobs to China, India, Pakistan, Honduras and other locations. Below is a video to what I'm talking about. As you will see in the video, the loss of jobs does not come from the southern border. The east and west coasts are primarily effected due to outsourcing of millions of jobs. If anyone believes that a recovery is occurring or is on its way, clink on the link below. A recovery is not about to happen until outsourcing is ended and employers hiring undocumented workers are fined and stopped from doing so.

Google this YouTube video:
Unemployment Trends by County 2007-2010, glazedoldfashioned

(then click on the YouTube link at the top of the list. The video won't take much of your time. It's 32 seconds long.)

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Aug. 11, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

Well said Barbara. Most members of anti-immigrant hate groups are working class or poor European Americans that have been driven into poverty by the affluent elite European Americans that send the good union jobs over seas then manipulate people into believing that their fellow immigrant workers are to blame. It is a very effective old formula to consolidate power and hoard wealth.

Posted by Guest Jose Luis Pavon on Aug. 16, 2010 @ 7:03 am

A saner person in a sea of left wing hacks.

The lefties love mandates of all sorts, Hennessy is bitching that the city of SF's crank liberals can't opt out of a federal program after cheering for Pelosi's federal health care mandates?

What a bunch of children the progressive turn out to be.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 12, 2010 @ 9:11 am

The "immigrant advocates" are properly "illegal alien" advocates who do not believe that the citizens of this nation have the same sovereign right as do the nations of origin of the illegal aliens. From Bolivia to Ireland, from Guatemala to Nigeria, from Mexico to Communist China, all of these nations have the right to set laws which establish who can enter the country and how long a visit can last and under what conditions someone can immigrate. The far left of this nation puts the interests of illegal aliens above those4 of citizens just as the right looks to exploit cheap labor that destroys hard won gains by working people in our country. Meanwhile, in every poll, the vast majority American citizens want to see only deportation or working papers (with fines) for all illegal aliens. But, who cares what the majority of citizens wants in our so called democracy?

Posted by Guest Maggy Drew on Aug. 12, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

This is just another dog and pony show from the Feds. They have no intent on enforcing immigration laws. If they were it would be manditory like E-verify would be manditory and retroactive. If they were serious they would follow Eisenhower's solutions.

The La Raza crowd has open borders, zero interior enforcement, the 14th admendment, chain migration, high birth rates, the media, all 3 branches of government, the unions, a weak and cowardly populace frozen from the word racist and most importantly, TIME.

By 2100 the USA will have been transformed into a poor third world meso american peasant country, just like those places they are leaving. Just check with the census dept. for proof. Anyone that doesn't like it needs to leave. Oz and NZ are nice, IF you can get in. They enforce their immigration laws, unlike the US.

Posted by Jimi on Aug. 13, 2010 @ 7:50 am

It's downright silly to blame anybody or any faction for the immigration mess. Basically, U.S. citizens today have inherited a dysfunctional immigration system and we're slowly morphing ways of dealing with it appropriately, finally. This isn't liberals vs. right wing; it's national security. That's all the information and justification we need to make and enforce these laws.

"Racial profiling" of illegals is a guilt trip and a ruse. Frankly, being told by illegal aliens that we're evil for trying to secure our borders is confirmation that we are, for certain, doing the right thing, AND it is a form of racial profiling that nobody recognizes or talks about.

Posted by Guest Carla K. on Aug. 13, 2010 @ 7:55 am

The immigration issue has nothing to do with "national security." This is a nation of immigrants, remember? But I do hear that from militants whose every-other-word has something to do with hate towards undocumented immigrants and especially people of brown complexion.

A relative of mine who likes to travel sometimes says, "take me to any 'third-world' country." I usually respond with, "you're in one" and you would realize that if you had seen other nations...the ones that I'm thinking of. Those nations do make this nation look like a so-called "third world country." And again, our crumbling nation is not caused by immigrants. Our nation is crumbling because of off-shoring in particular. Did anyone even bother to look at the video I mentioned in my earlier post?

It is also standard practice for the militants to consistently ignore the *employers* who hire undocumented workers, like those employers who employed the militant's ancestors who came here and worked "illegally" as well. Also, how many of the militants are Native Americans? How many of the militants are currently or have in the past employed an undocumented immigrant?

How many of the militants regularly shop at corporate box stores (Target, WalMart, Home Depot and others) who sell mainly products made outside this nation from off-shoring? Products from China, India, Pakistan, Honduras and other places. Those products are made in those locations by jobs that have been exported out of this nation due to outsourcing, which has nothing to do with people from Latin America. Outsourcing/off-shoring is at record levels now. But I don't hear the militants hating on off-shoring. Nor do they talk about buying locally and supporting the local economy. How many of the militants drive huge SUVs which support oil exploration and disasters such as the Gulf/BP? Isn't that also supporting the Middle East oil cartels with your big SUVs? How many of the militants carry guns everywhere they go? The nation security threat to this nation is from within.

A little education can go a long way if you allow it to sink in. There's a lot more to this issue than a person with a brown skin complexion.

I'm for open borders. I cannot take part in this dangerous militant hate-fest.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Aug. 13, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

"A little education can go a long way if you allow it to sink in. There's a lot more to this issue than a person with a brown skin complexion."

No s__t! How about a LOT of education? Calling people "militants" because they believe in protecting our borders is simplistic and incorrect, not to speak of arrogant. This is not about color, though some cling to that notion. I could sit here and tell you all about my world travels, extensive education and rich personal life to convince you that I haven't an ounce of bigotry toward people of color (whom I live, work and play with every day!), don't own said SUV, and do all of the "right" things by YOUR definition--plus, more--that I am, in fact, an old hippie and a screaming liberal--an inconvenient truth, I'm sure.

A nation of immigrants is fine. A nation of illegal aliens who will do whatever it takes to get what they want regardless of our laws, is quite another situation. An invasion of illegal aliens that both attracts and camoflauges criminal activity on a national level, swamps our overburdened infrastructure and outsources billions in wages to other countries during climactic warming, and global depression, certainly IS a matter of national security.

"...dangerous militant hate-fest."

Calling it so doesn't make it so. Your attack on "militants" is true enough, but off point here. This posting smacks of labeling theory as it's being used by professionals to twist through their agenda using paid bloggers to inflame and confuse--i.e., if you're anti-amnesty, you're evil and militant, no exceptions. Actually, amnesty (the result of open borders) favors only the illegals (+extended families), their lawyers, and corporate profiteers. Which one are you?

Posted by Guest Carla K. on Aug. 14, 2010 @ 9:01 am

"Google" this article:

"Florida GOP candidate urges internment camps for undocumented immigrants"

I am also aware that the governor of Florida wants to bring Arizona to Florida but carry it even farther by giving 20 days jail time to any undocumented immigrant who is stopped and not carrying their papers. Yes, check point are coming to this nation of immigrants: I read this article earlier this week:

"Florida bill ‘goes one step further’ than Arizona immigration law"
20 days in jail for immigrants who don't carry documentation on them

I am reminded that during the 1940s, an unmentioned European country fell into extreme right-wing militant thinking and we know the outcome of that militant thinking. But in the days of 1984 we have reversed our thinking in this country to where some in this country wants interment camps for starters. Maybe a year after that, don't be breathing the air especially if there is a big smoke stake near by. These rabid militants can really get out of hand. Look at how these militants are bringing guns to protests and are forever frightened of anything that moves it seems. One would think it would be smart for this country to educate themselves about the new militant movement and on a little Word War II history.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Aug. 14, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

You're upset that breaking the law would result in jail time?

Also, there are already check points at dozens of miles from the border all over the southwest.

The nazi's came to power in the 30's, they were following the enlightened race theories of progressives of the time.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 16, 2010 @ 10:40 am

The people calling themselves "progressive" at the time bore very little relationship to those using that term today. Heck, even "liberal" meant free-market conservative then. Your words obfuscate.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2010 @ 2:19 pm