controversial program should be overhauled to focus on persons with convictions and prior criminal records.
Introduced in 2008 by former President George W. Bush, Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) is a federal immigration enforcement program that requires state and local law enforcement agencies to submit the fingerprints of all arrested and booked persons to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). This in turn allows ICE to identify non-citizens and to potentially initiate deportation proceedings against them. The program is largely recognized as having a disastrous impact on civil rights and liberties. Despite ICE’s own statements that S-Comm should focus on people convicted of serious crimes, in practice, it has been a tool for ensnaring people with no – or minor – criminal records and for sowing distrust between local law enforcement agencies and communities. It is programs like S-Comm that have aided the Obama Administration in deporting nearly 2 million persons, more than any other president in U.S. history.
Given S-Comm’s history, Secretary Johnson’s statements about the program have met with understandable skepticism and civil rights groups continue to push for more meaningful immigration reform.