On Aug. 10, national civil rights groups released documents on the Department of Homeland Security's Secure Communities program.
These groups' findings--based on information gleaned from materials obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request--included the startling statistic that the vast majority (79 percent) of people detained due to S-Comm are non-criminals, up for lower level offenses, such as traffic offenses or petty juvenile mischief.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has since responded to claims made at that press conference, saying, among other things, that local jurisdictions can, in fact, opt out of the program--though the process sounds somewhat convoluted.
“Widespread confusion persists about how jurisdictions can choose not to participate in [Secure Communities] due to concern about how the program will impact community policing initiatives and public safety," ICE's statement notes.
"As part of the Secure Communities activation process, ICE conducts outreach to local jurisdictions, including providing information about the biometric information sharing capability, explaining the benefits of this capability, when they are scheduled for activation, and addressing any concerns they may have," ICE continued.
"If a jurisdiction does not wish to activate on its scheduled date in the Secure Communities deployment plan, it must formally notify its state identification bureau and ICE in writing (email, letter or facsimile)," ICE concluded. "Upon receipt of that information, ICE will request a meeting with federal partners, the jurisdiction, and the state to discuss any issues and come to a resolution, which may include adjusting the jurisdiction’s activation date in or removing the jurisdiction from the deployment plan.”
Local immigrant rights groups are taking ICE's statement as a hopeful sign that San Francisco could yet opt out of the program, even though attempts to do so earlier this year--initiated at the request of San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey--fell apart at the state level. But maybe the winds have changed. Stay tuned...