FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Secure Communities on Thin ICE

by TANYA GOLASH-BOZA

There are ten million undocumented migrants in the United States who risk deportation if apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE only has 20,000 employees  – only a fraction of whom are enforcement agents. Although ICE is the second largest investigative agency in the federal government, ICE does not have the resources to arrest, detain, and deport 10 million people. Thus, ICE must find other agencies to help it carry out its mission.

In case you were wondering, ICE’s mission is, it is “to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration.”

All that? With 20,000 employees? The NYPD has 34,500 uniformed officers in New York City alone. As you can see, ICE can’t do it all alone. Thus, this federal agency seeks cooperation with other agencies. One of their key collaborators is the local police, who are charged with protecting and serving their communities – not with enforcing federal immigration laws.

Nevertheless, police officers have become the primary on-the-ground enforcers of immigration law inside the United States. One way this has happened is through the Secure Communities program. Under this program, the local police check the immigration status of any immigrant booked into a county jail. The federal government has been pushing this program for two main reasons: 1) They don’t have the officers to carry out their mission and 2) Programs like this allow immigration law enforcement to be selective and get dangerous criminals off the street.

The problem is, study after study shows that Secure Communities is not catching dangerous criminals. Instead, Secure Communities encourages racial profiling, drives a wedge between community members and police, and primarily catches people with low-level (or no) offenses. A study by the Warren Institute, for example, revealed that 93 percent of people turned over to ICE under Secure Communities were Latino, even though Latin Americans make up only three-quarters of all undocumented immigrants. Another study reveals that, in Illinois, 77% of people arrested by ICE in Illinois under Secure Communities through July 2010 have no criminal convictions. The reason Secure Communities programs can pick up people without criminal convictions is that the Program only requires that people be arrested, not that they are actually convicted of any criminal activity.

The Center for American Progress has released a study where they examined the everyday lives of undocumented immigrants in North County, San Diego, the first community in California to sign on to Secure Communities. They completed 30 in-depth interviews with migrants, in addition to 851 surveys. Their study revealed that undocumented migrants were reluctant to report crimes, out of fear that they could be arrested and deported. In addition, many undocumented migrants reported that they avoided public places and even walking down the street, out of fear of being arrested. Some parents stopped picking their children up from school once they perceived that there was a crackdown in immigration law enforcement. In sum, they found that undocumented migrants often live in fear. This fact is particularly pernicious when we remember that over half of undocumented migrants live in mixed-status households. That is, they live in houses with legally present immigrants as well as with U.S. citizens. The grave impacts of undocumented migrants living in fear are often felt by their U.S. citizen and legally present family members, causing reverberating effects well beyond the ten million undocumented migrants in this country.

As the Center for American Progress and other studies make clear, cracking down on undocumented migrants by obliging local police departments to add to their already overburdened system does not make us safer or more secure. Instead, it creates fear and uncertainty in communities.

Tanya Golash-Boza is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Studies at the University of Kansas and the author of Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-9/11 America, published by Paradigm Publishers.

 

Tanya Golash-Boza is the author of: Yo Soy Negro Blackness in PeruImmigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-9/11 Americaand Due Process Denied: Detentions and Deportations in the United States. Her new book Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor, and Global Capitalism will be published by NYU Press in 2015.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail