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:
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
Richard Pithouse
We Shall be the Prey and the Vulture
Binoy Kampmark
Trump and the Polls of Loathing
Manuel E. Yepe
A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt Negotiations: Will the IMF Exit the Troika?
Ajamu Nangwaya
Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding Missing Pan-Africanist Women
Howard Lisnoff
Israel, a Palestinian State and Anti-Semitism
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail