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:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail