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Group Has Concerns Over DHS Border Plan

WASHINGTON - Border Action Network expresses concern over Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano's announcement to deploy the Secure Communities program to all 25 US counties along the Southwest border. 

According to BAN Executive Director Jennifer Allen, this announcement is another politically motivated measure to appear tough on enforcement even though there is no convincing evidence that Secure Communities actually makes our communities more secure, especially in the absence of much needed comprehensive immigration reform.

Secure Communities is a program that allows ICE officers to use biometric information taken from arrested individuals and use it to verify their immigration status. According to DHS, its initial goal was to improve and modernize efforts to identify aliens convicted of a crime, sentenced to imprisonment, and who may be removed from the United States once they are judged deportable.  

The effectiveness of this program, however, needs to be clearly established before it is extended across the Southwest.   Its guidelines have not been shared with the American public, and all signs show that it is not fulfilling its mission.  According to a report released today using government data, about one-quarter of persons deported through Secure Communities did not have criminal records and thus did not meet the "aliens convicted of a crime" standard set in its mission.    

According to Allen, at a minimum, Secure Communities should be stopped pending a rigorous review.  "The program is being used by some police in Arizona to engage in racial profiling by engaging pretextual arrests of generally law abiding Latino residents that they can subject to immigration checks, instead of targeting the serious criminal elements outlined in the program's mission."

Allen continues, "The federal government seems so intent in implementing this program that it is failing to ascertain if the program is being used correctly by local and federal officers, whether it holds accountable any officers or agencies who misuse it, whether it is actually making our communities more secure, and whether it makes law enforcement more effective in their work."  

Given today's announcement that 25% of all persons deported through the program are not convicted criminals who pose a public safety threat to American communities, BAN Policy Director Jaime Farrant states that Secretary Napolitano should have called for the suspension of the program pending a full review of its effectiveness.  "Instead, " says Farrant, "the American people get an announcement to further expand what seems to be an ineffective initiative."  

Border Action Network continues to call on federal authorities to establish programs that work in accordance with their mission and that protect the constitutional rights of our nation's residents, and calls on the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Furthermore, the organization calls on the federal government to suspend and terminate initiatives like Secure Communities, which only cast wedges between communities and law enforcement and reject good community policing principles and practices




Border Action Network formed in 1999 and works with immigrant and border communities in Arizona to ensure that our rights are respected, our human dignity upheld and that our communities are healthy places to live. We are a membership-based organization that combines grassroots community organizing, leadership development, litigation and policy advocacy.



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