|Mixed reviews for ICE program|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 13:43|
New reports released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have exposed much chaos within a new, high-profile program that target illegal immigrants from the Caribbean and other countries.
The worst offender, according to a scathing report by Homeland Security Inspector General Charles K. Edwards, was the "Secure Communities" program, which originally was designed to target and capture violent immigrant criminals. The program required that fingerprints collected by state officials from crime suspects be sent to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Since December, the Secure Communities program operates in 44 states, covering 64 percent of local law enforcement jurisdictions.
Officials of the program gave "mixed messages" to U.S. state and local authorities on whether the program was compulsory or voluntary. From 2009 to 2010, the ICE assured state authorities that the program was voluntary, but later backpedaled; eventually asserting that participation was mandatory.
This uncertainty, as many immigrant groups argue, has led to ruthless deportations of Caribbean migrants without criminal records. Under the program, fingerprints were collected for offenses as minor as traffic violations. And, as the Secure Communities directives require local police officers to perform also as frontline immigration agents, local law enforcement has reported greater difficulty in fighting crime in immigrant communities, as victims and witnesses to crimes fear deportation.
Edwards however "did not find evidence that ICE intentionally misled" local officials or the public about the program, but rather "missed opportunities" to clarify the program's priorities.
Spokeswoman for ICE, Nicole Navas, said the ICE is taking "aggressive steps" to provide clearer guidelines about Secure Communities.
A second report however stated that despite these oversights, the Secure Communities program has been effective in identifying and capturing more immigrants who have committed serious crimes, expanding the ICE's capacity to find criminals at minimal cost to state budgets.
Just last week, local authorities under the ICE program participated in Operation "Cross Check," the largest national arrest of serious immigrant criminals. Over 3,100 suspects were arrested. Among them was 34-year-old Jamaican national Carlington David Richards, who the ICE captured in Seattle, Washington. Richards was described as a fugitive wanted for murder charges in Jamaica.
Meanwhile, the Secure Communities program is still set to launch nationwide by 2013.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:07|