A Syracuse University study shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Secure Communities” program, an initiative that has triggered the debate around so-called sanctuary cities, is showing lackluster results.
TRAC, a Syracuse University program designed to make federal data available to the general public, released a report on ICE’s Secure Communities program last week, showing that the federal immigration law enforcement program is only responsible for 3 percent of the United States’ annual deportations—a surprisingly low figure considering the controversy it has drawn since its conception.
“Only about 2.5 percent of Secure Communities removals were connected to the use of detainers sent to local law enforcement agencies. … When Compared with ICE removals from all sources, this component made up even a smaller proportion – less than 1 percent of all ICE removals,” stated the report by TRAC, a nonpartisan research group that does not make policy recommendations.
ICE promptly responded by pointing out that the Secure Communities program is nonetheless vital to the immigration enforcement framework, securing at least “43,300 convicted aliens” from January 2017 to the end of the fiscal year. TRAC, however, claims that based on the Freedom of Information Act requests they have received, the figure provided by ICE is bloated by at least 75 percent.
Created under the Bush administration, renamed under President Obama, and later returned to its original name and mandate under Trump, Secure Communities was designed to force local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration agencies – providing a means for federal agencies to operate at the state and local level.
Regular post-arrest processes include background checks and running a detainee’s fingerprints, which are sent to a federal database for cross-checking. Fingerprint processing works to identify the citizenship or immigration status of a detainee, normally leaving local law enforcement to do with the results what they will. Secure Communities, however, allows ICE and other federal agencies to intercept the results of these print checks, prompting them to send detainer requests to local police on individuals found to be undocumented.
Secure Communities quickly drew controversy, with critics pointing out areas in the program they consider unconstitutional. In particular, multiple lower courts have found that ICE’s issuance of detainer requests resulting in the arrest of immigrants without local charges violates the Fourth Amendment for lack of probable cause. Consigning federal enforcement activities to local jurisdictions was also found to be an overreach of the federal government’s enforcement power.
A number of cities and counties responded to Secure Communities by refusing to cooperate with federal agencies in matters of immigration law enforcement, earning the distinction of being known as sanctuary cities. In Texas, the passing of Texas Senate Bill 4 was designed to crack down on sanctuary cities by penalizing local law enforcement agencies and officials who refuse to cooperate with the feds. But the law was never fully implemented due to a federal court blocking it.
If you want to learn more about these “sanctuary city” issues and how they affect your rights, don’t hesitate to talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to discuss your options. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.