Photo courtesy of ICE

Any day now Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will announce a second round of “reforms” to the disgraced “Secure Communitiesdeportation program, S-Comm. And once again, it appears that ICE is more interested in spin than substance. The timing of the announcement–immediately before the DHS Office of Inspector General Report–seems primarily designed to take the pressure off of ICE rather than an honest attempt to address the fundamental flaws of the program.

We’ve been here before. In 2010, ICE tried the same tactic by announcing “reforms” to S-COMM’s predecessor, the 287(g) program to try to save the agency from the embarrassment of that year’s Inspector General report that described the program as an unmitigated disaster.

“Secure Communities” turns local police into defacto agents of deportation, forcing them to enforce unjust immigration laws, inviting racial profiling, and undermining community safety. It’s a program that has been leading to the “Arizonification” of the country, and has placed ICE under fire since it’s start in 2008. The only way forward on S-Comm is termination.

Since its inception, “Secure Communities” has gained fame for outright deception, starting with its very name. And now, after the release of thousands of internal emails and the agency’s own deportation data, there is no longer any doubt that ICE lied to local lawmakers, Congress, and the American public.

So-called “Secure Communities”, “S-Comm” or “In-Secure Communities” as it has been dubbed is the most recent attempt of ICE-DHS to control the immigration “problem”. This anti-immigrant program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies to share all fingerprints processed at local jails. This mandated sharing occurs regardless of the type of crime and even if the charges are dropped. The inaccurately named program, “Secure Communities” was said to have been initiated to target “level one” criminals (kidnappers, drug dealers, murders), but in practice has been successful in targeting jay-walkers, victims of domestic violence, mentally challenged citizens, and those who do not look “American”.

So why is the Administration holding on to a program that has a very public record of deception? One that law enforcement officers, Governors, cities, and Congressional representatives reject as damaging to public safety. And why is it continuing to operate the program in places like Georgia, with its unconstitutional anti-immigrant hate law, HB 87, while finally suspending it–at least partially–in Alabama and restricting it in Maricopa County? Clearly, this violates common sense. It also demonstrates a distorted sense of priorities.

Janet Napolitano announces record high deportations at ICE headquarters in Washington. Photo: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

In its blind quest to meet its arbitrary deportation quota of 400,000 people per year, the Obama Administration is driving a wedge between communities and local police, making it more difficult to solve crimes, and turning a blind eye to the fact that people are being placed into deportation through unconstitutional arrests. Civil immigration enforcement above public safety and constitutional protections? Really?

The upcoming announcement will be a significant opportunity for the President to demonstrate leadership on a program that has come to symbolize his broken immigration promises. Will it be business as usual or will the Obama Administration finally abandon their growing legacy of deportation? Will the Obama Administration stop attempting to convince the public that ICE may reform itself, despite every indicator that it’s incapable? Will the Obama Administration embrace the consensus against S-Comm or continue gripping onto the program despite its failure?

The next few days will tell. For the communities that are left to cope with the disasters of the Administration’s draconian immigration enforcement policies, the commitment to break ICE’s hold continues regardless of this month’s announcement. Communities reeling from this growing crisis have already documented the conclusive demand that S-COMM be terminated. Their pledge to restore trust and to break ICE’s hold on their community and the country will only grow stronger.


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