Secure Communities used to be an optional program, but it has since become a mandate. About 97% of local or state law enforcement agencies partake in Secure Communities — which distributes the finger prints of an arrested individual to federal immigration authorities, who can then utilize the information to start deportation proceedings — and that number will be 100% by the end of the year.
One man, though, is suing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the Secure Communities program flagged him as an illegal immigrant, even though he is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
He was adopted by a U.S. family when he was four months old and by the age of one he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Now 24, the young man was arrested on drug possession charges — only to be incarcerated two months long than was necessary because federal officials labeled him as an illegal immigrant.
His suit hinges on the Privacy Act of 1974, which bars federal agencies from sharing certain information with each other. When the DHS and FBI shared this man’s fingerprints (and thus, any fingerprints under Secure Communities), their collaboration may have violated that act.
The man’s lawsuit will be the first of its kind: no U.S. citizen has sued the DHS or the FBI over the use of Secure Communities. However, this could spark many lawsuits in the future. There have been many stories (in Los Angeles and around the country) of U.S. citizens being racially profiled; and subsequently, the authorities assume they are illegal immigrants. This is a major issue with Secure Communities (and immigration enforcement in general).
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Citizen sues over imprisonment under fingerprint-sharing program,” Brian Bennett, July 6, 2012