LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has touted the success of “Secure Communities” in Los Angeles during the first year of activation. ICE reports that more than 5,000 immigrants were deported from Los Angeles because they committed an offense and signified a threat to the community. The statement does not mention the 2,078 immigrants that were also removed but had committed a low level offense or no crime at all. The following is a statement by Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a regional human and immigrant rights not-for-profit community-based organization based in Los Angeles.
“We refute ICE’s claim that Secure Communities is a smart, effective immigration enforcement program that targets the greatest threats to our community. Secure Communities is a dragnet of questionable effectiveness that has resulted, not in the removal of serious criminals who we believe would have gotten caught by other programs anyway, but in the detention and deportation of thousands upon thousands of working men and women nationwide who were never even convicted of a misdemeanor let alone a serious offense.
In a press release this week ICE states Secure Communities was instrumental in the deportation of 5,500 so-called criminals from Los Angeles in year one. It fails to report that an additional 2,078 immigrants were removed but had committed no serious offense or none at all. We can hardly call Secure Communities a laser-focused program when so many immigrants who are deported do not fit ICE’s own set priorities. Figures at the national level indicate that ICE deported more non-criminals than criminals of any kind in 2009 and 2010. In FY 2009, 265,000 immigrants removed had committed no serious offense. In FY 2010, 157,100 immigrants with no serious offenses were removed.
Instead of all the facts, ICE tells the American public half truths which can serve only two purposes: 1) offer a false sense of protection to those who say immigrants are a threat to national security; and, 2) justify the millions of tax payer dollars being invested on ineffective, inhumane, and unconstitutional immigration law enforcement schemes such as Secure Communities that even some jurisdictions in California including Santa Clara County and San Francisco and others in Colorado and Washington are already deciding to opt out of. We urge Los Angeles County to follow suit and refuse to collaborate with ICE in the detention and deportation of immigrants who represent no threat to our community.”