On Friday, April 27, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) responded to the recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Task Force on Secure Communities regarding reform of the program. This Task Force, representing various voices in the debate over Secure Communities, from law enforcement experts to immigrant rights advocates to lawyers and faith leaders, was convened by DHS in 2011.
Secure Communities is a federal/state immigration enforcement partnership whereby fingerprints taken by local police when booking individuals for local offenses are automatically checked against federal immigration databases. Detention and deportation decisions are then made on the basis of this check.
ICE has now announced how it will respond to the extensive efforts of the Task Force and of advocates over the last nine months. The response does not change ICE’s policy of detaining and deporting immigrants who are caught up in Secure Communities only due to minor traffic violations, even in jurisdictions that have a documented history of racial discrimination by police. ICE will continue to deny localities the ability to monitor the program in their jurisdictions, let alone to opt out. And it will continue to rely on existing oversight mechanisms that are opaque or inadequate.
One change is that ICE will now wait to proceed with enforcement against immigrants whose only offense is a minor misdemeanor traffic violation until after they have actually been convicted of the minor violation.