Secure Communities has been wrapped up in many controversies since its inception. The mandate that allows local and federal to share fingerprints and criminal information so as to target undocumented immigrants for deportation has accidentally flagged U.S. citizens and obstructed basic civil rights of people before; and now, it could be indirectly involved in another civil rights controversy.
Lee Baca, the sheriff of Los Angeles County, has been accused of ignoring bails requests of undocumented people on immigrations holds, even though their crime was minor. Under Secure Communities, any illegal immigrant flagged by local or federal authorities is put on an immigration hold, which is only supposed to last 48 hours. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then investigates the suspect, who can be deported.
The alleged policy by Baca supersedes the requests made by Secure Communities, as some suspects were held for months at a time. It also is in direct violation of the Obama administration’s policy to “de-prioritize” deportation proceedings against people who are young or only committed minor crimes.
And then, of course, there is simply the basic right to bail, which ICE officials say they do accept — even if someone is put on an immigration hold. But then why were people waiting around for months in jail, even though they asked to post bail?
It is just another example of how illegal immigrants are unfairly treated in the criminal justice system, and can be put at a disadvantage when they are placed in a situation that requires legal action. Any undocumented people need to do whatever they can to contact an immigration lawyer, so that they can be well-represented should deportation threats or unfair treatment be directed at them.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “ACLU sues Sheriff Baca over bail refusals,” Cindy Chang, Oct. 19, 2012
- Discrimination and unfair treatment are commonplace for illegal immigrants who are placed in the criminal justice system or are placed on immigration holds. To learn more about this topic, please visit our Los Angeles immigration page.