Monday, January 24, 2011

ICE's "Secure Communities" program goes into effect throughout Wisconsin

ICE's "Secure Communities" program goes into effect throughout Wisconsin

January 12, 2011 - Voces de la Frontera

Yesterday the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) announced that its so-called "Secure Communities" program, a merger of the criminal justice and immigration systems, is now in effect in all Wisconsin counties. Secure Communities allows information on arrests from local jails to be shared with ICE, using biometric data, or fingerprints. ICE agents can ask law enforcement agencies to hold long-time legal residents and undocumented immigrants, and then transfer them into ICE custody to face deportation.

Around the country, activists have united in opposition to Secure Communities, concerned about the program encouraging racial profiling amongst law enforcement, as well as undermining the public's trust and safety by creating new fears of immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes.

In addition, Secure Communities has already proven statistically troubling in the areas of the country where it is in place. As of December 2010, ICE reported that over 25% (13,054 of 50,972) of all deportations nationwide were of non-criminal immigrants, despite assurances by the Obama administration to focus ICE's efforts on criminals.

"Voces de la Frontera strongly condemns Wisconsin's participation in a program that actually makes communities less safe. The justification is that these partnerships will result in "smart" enforcement which prioritizes individuals who are a danger to the community. However, the reality is this casts too wide of a net, abusing due process rights so that someone who is innocent of a charge will still end up in deportation proceedings," says Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera.

"Wisconsin should follow the lead of other states such as New York and Colorado, which have revised a memorandum of agreement to ensure that smart enforcement is a reality."

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