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- 04-06-2012, 05:54 PM #1
DHS Releases Two Reports on Secure Communities
DHS Releases Two Reports on Secure Communities
Posted: Apr 06, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector-General today released two reports regarding the Secure Communities federal immigration enforcement program.
Under Secure Communities, police share the fingerprints of all arrestees with federal immigration authorities. Implemented in 2008, the program has expanded rapidly and is expected to be active in all counties nationwide by 2013. Althought the program's goal is to prioritize the deportation of those with a criminal record, it has led to the deportation of thousands of immigrants with no criminal records. Critics also charge that officials have given local police and governments mixed messages about whether they can opt out of the program.
In April 2011, Representative Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., requested that the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) conduct an investigation to determine whether false and misleading statements may have been made intentionally during the Secure Communities implementation.
"We did not find evidence that ICE intentionally misled the publicor States and local jurisdictions during implementation of Secure Communities," the Officer of Inspector General reported. "However, ICE did not clearly communicate to stakeholders the intent of Secure Communities and their expected participation... ICE senior leadership also missed opportunities to provide clear direction toits officials implementing Secure Communities. As a result, three years after implementation began, Secure Communities continues to face opposition, criticism, and resistance in some locations."
The report had three recommendations for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which ICE has agreed to implement. These include releasing guidance and criteria that specifically outline the intent and expectations of Secure Communities and specify which aspects are optional for states and local law enforcement agencies; coordinating with the Department of Homeland Security to establish protocols to ensure that DHS and ICE provide the necessary direction, guidance, oversight, and support for the intent and implementation of new immigration enforcement programs; and generate a lessons learned document and plan for DHS to use in future immigration and enforcement program development and implementation.
Civil rights groups contended that the reports did not adequately address their grievances with the Secure Communities program.
“Today's reports do nothing to address the well-founded criticisms of S-Comm that have been coming from all corners of the country for the past four years,” said Kate Desormeau, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The reports ignore the reality that this misguided program has led to unwarranted detention, arrests and deportations of victims, witnesses and other innocent people, including U.S. citizens. If the Department of Homeland Security is serious about resolving the widespread civil rights abuses this flawed program is causing and the mistrust it is creating in our communities, it would end the program now.”
DHS Releases Two Reports on Secure Communities - NAMNO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 04-09-2012, 11:15 PM #2
IG To ICE: Clarify Processes, Communications for Secure Communities Program
By: Mickey McCarter
04/09/2012 ( 3:00am)
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should strengthen the Secure Communities criminal alien identification program by eliminating duplicative research and by sufficiently documenting enforcement actions in the program, said the inspector general (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Friday.
The IG report followed an earlier report that concluded ICE did not intentionally mislead states and localities when it clarified they could not opt out of participation in Secure Communities.
The DHS IG office conducted an audit of Secure Communities, which is designed to match the fingerprints of arrested prisoners in databases at the Department of Justice with immigration databases at DHS. In its report, Operations of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities, the IG office determined that Secure Communities generally was effective in identifying detained criminal aliens, and ICE officers generally followed enforcement actions according to ICE polices.
However, despite these successes, ICE field offices sometimes conducted duplicative research. Moreover, ICE officers did not always sufficiently document their enforcement actions.
To correct these problems, the IG report called upon ICE to develop procedures to eliminate duplication in identification efforts. ICE also should develop procedures and system controls to ensure that officers complete the records for criminal aliens the agency identifies through Secure Communities.
ICE agreed with the recommendations, informing the IG office that it would modernize its Alien Criminal Response Information Management System (ACRIMe) that would enable its specialists to access more data in the system. With these improvements, ICE field offices can search the system and determine if research on specific criminal aliens already has been complete, thereby avoiding duplicative research.
All field officers will receive the upgraded ACRIMe capabilities in fiscal year (FY) 2013, ICE reported. ICE further said it would tackle the problem in the short term by increasing processing times for status determinations and increasing time for inquiries from law enforcement agencies, thus providing ICE officers with more time to determine if research already had been conducted on certain cases.
ICE also said it would produce a monthly report that will identify compliance rates with agency requirements to document encounters and dispositions on fingerprint matches in the IDENT system. ICE would ensure complete reports for instances when the agency took no enforcement action as well, the agency said. The new compliance report will make certain ICE field offices comply with such regulations and that they provide details on searches that did not yield matches in the IDENT database, which is maintained by the FBI.
In its earlier report Communication Regarding Participation in Secure Communities, the IG office determined that ICE did not intentionally mislead states and localities on their expected level of participation in the program.
When ICE implemented Secure Communities, it set out to enter into agreements with the states on the goals of Secure Communities. But these agreements, contained in memoranda of understanding, created confusion as to whether Secure Communities was voluntary or not. In August 2011, ICE Director John Morton wrote to governors to confirm that participation in Secure Communities is mandatory under federal law, and that ICE declared the memoranda as null and void.
The IG report said, "We did not find evidence that ICE intentionally misled the public or states and local jurisdictions during implementation of Secure Communities. However, ICE did not clearly communicate to stakeholders the intent of Secure Communities and their expected participation. This lack of clarity was evident in its strategic plan, its outreach efforts, memorandums of agreement signed by states, and its responses to inquiries regarding participation."
The IG office recommended that ICE develop guidance and criteria that spell out the intent of Secure Communities, specifying which parts of it, if any, remain optional for states and localities. ICE should further set protocols for the implementation of new immigration enforcement programs to avoid such confusion in the future and examine lessons learned from the program, the IG report said.
ICE agreed with those recommendations as well.
But Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who requested the IG audit of Secure Committees, protested that the IG office (OIG) did not fulfill her requests with the release of its reports.
The request to audit Secure Communities was prompted, rather, over concerns that the program ensnared innocent individuals and encouraged racial profiling of Hispanics, said Lofgren, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement.
"I am frankly disappointed in these reports from the OIG. After a long wait for the report, it is surprising to find that the OIG simply failed to provide answers to key questions. The OIG found Secure Communities effective in finding and removing immigrants with criminal convictions. That wasn't the question. Does the program also ensnare victims and others with no criminal history? Is it susceptible to racial profiling? Does it ultimately undermine community policing efforts-leaving us all less safe?," she asked.
"The OIG also fell short in its review of whether agency personnel intentionally misled government officials and the public with respect to the ability of states and localities not to participate in the program. Although the OIG does find that DHS and ICE botched up communicating with program participants by making numerous conflicting and misleading statements and ultimately failed to address the resulting confusion, we already knew that," she added. "The OIG failed to specifically address internal ICE e-mail exchanges indicating that some of those misleading statements may have been made intentionally. The OIG doesn't say whether DHS or ICE provided misinformation through incompetence or dishonesty. That leaves me concerned about the thoroughness of this review."
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has vowed to implement Secure Communities in every local law enforcement jurisdiction by the end of calendar year 2013. But Lofgren objected, emphasizing that DHS must work with state and local officials to be certain that Secure Communities effectively supports the identification of criminal aliens without harming public safety.
"Unfortunately, this lengthy review provided no meaningful information that was not already available," Lofgren said.
In FY 2008, ICE stood up Secure Communities to: identify criminal aliens through improved information sharing, prioritize the apprehension and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety or national security, and enhance enforcement processes and systems pertaining to criminal aliens.
Secure Communities has received about $750 million in funding since 2008, the IG report noted. Although local law enforcement agencies generally conduct the fingerprint checks that alert ICE to the presence of arrested aliens, ICE sets up the Secure Communities programs in local jurisdictions at little or no cost to those agencies.
As of Sept. 30, 2011, ICE has identified more than 692,000 criminal aliens through Secure Communities. Before implementation of the program, law enforcement agencies had to rely on a lengthy process of sending fingerprints to the FBI manually to confirm the immigration status of detained criminals.
ICE also manages several other efforts to identify and arrest criminal aliens -- the Criminal Alien Program, the 287(g) program, and the National Fugitive Operations Program. Overall funding for criminal alien identification and removal totaled about $690 million in FY 2011, the IG report said.
Opponents of Secure Communities, who complain that the system infringes on privacy by sharing too much information among federal agencies, used the release of the IG report as an opportunity to protest the existence of the program.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) decried Secure Communities, also known as S-Comm, as "flawed" and demanded DHS end it.
The IG reports "do nothing to address the well-founded criticisms of S-Comm that have been coming from all corners of the country for the past four years," said Kate Desormeau, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, in a statement. "The reports ignore the reality that this misguided program has led to unwarranted detention, arrests and deportations of victims, witnesses and other innocent people, including US citizens. If the Department of Homeland Security is serious about resolving the widespread civil rights abuses this flawed program is causing and the mistrust it is creating in our communities, it would end the program now."
Homeland Security Today: IG To ICE: Clarify Processes, Communications for Secure Communities ProgramWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.