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.

 

More articles by:

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.

February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail