More changes are coming to enforcement of U.S. immigration laws after federal recommendations were made to reduce the severity of the Secure Communities program on those charged with traffic violations.
Secure Communities is the controversial fingerprint-sharing program that encourages local law enforcement to collaborate with federal immigration authorities so that they can identify and tab illegal immigrants for deportation.
Under Secure Communities, some illegal immigrants were being forced into deportation hearings just for traffic violations, such as driving without a license. Secure Communities is supposed to identify high-risk or “priority” immigrants who have criminal backgrounds or are wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
After reviewing the effects of Secure Communities, the Homeland Security Advisory Council advised that Secure Communities should excuse drunk driving, reckless driving, hit and run incidents or accidents that could cause serious harm. Such a policy will be enacted soon.
Limiting Secure Communities is of particular interest to those in California, as our state deports the most people under the program. While this change to the program is another step towards the current administration’s goal of prioritizing deportation cases with serious criminals or high-priority people, there could still be some confusion about the new enforcement.
As we saw with the prosecutorial discretion program a few weeks back, just because a new measure or order is brought into the fold doesn’t mean that things will run smoothly. Even with this potential policy on the books, people may be wrongfully arrested or face deportation simply based on their appearance or their lack of citizenship. Minor traffic violations should not result in such a reality under this new provision, and if you feel your rights under the new Secure Communities policy have been violated, consult an experienced immigration attorney.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Fewer people stopped for traffic offenses to face deportation,” Jeremy Redmon, April 28, 2012