Secure Communities Report: Thousands of American Citizens Arrested

Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process, a new report the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy of the University of California-Berkley, analyzes data from ICE on the Secure Communities program, received through a FOIA lawsuit and finds numerous problems. Among them:

Approximately 3,600 United States citizens have been arrested by ICE through the Secure
Communities program.


...One of the most disturbing findings in our research is that 1.6% of cases we analyzed were U.S. citizens and all were apprehended by ICE.41 If we extrapolate that number to the 226,694 cumulative administrative arrests and/or bookings into ICE custody from Secure Communities’ inception, then we find that approximately 3,600 US citizens have been apprehended by ICE from the inception of the program through April 2011.

Read Footnote 42 for the statistical methodology and the interesting note that ICE stopped publishing the number of ICE arrests/bookings in April, 2011, so the number of U.S. citizens arrested after that date can't be determined from the data.

What this tells us: Secure Communities is not working properly:

If Secure Communities were working properly, U.S. citizen hits should never result in the apprehension of such individuals for deportation because U.S. citizens cannot be deported.

The report finds another problem, one which we noted yesterday from ICE's latest nubmers:

A second major critique is that the program has not stayed true to its stated goal of removing only those serious offenders who pose a threat to public safety. Instead it has led to the mass deportation of low-level offenders, such as people who violate traffic laws and people without criminal histories at all.

Also see Final Shadow: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed “Secure
” Program, August, 2011.

ICE’s own numbers reveal that most of the individuals arrested and deported under S-Comm in fact have minor or no criminal convictions. Through May 2011, one-third of all immigrants whom ICE has arrested under the program have never been convicted of anything.5 More than half (59%) have either no convictions or are guilty of
only misdemeanors, including traffic offenses. S-Comm has gone far beyond its stated mission of catching “serious criminals" and has become a deportation dragnet on immigrant communities. (See Secure Communities Nationwide Interoperability Statistics through May 31, 2011.

There are other problems with the Secure Communities Program. Major due process issues for one. And racial profiling. A guide to the new report is here.

Although they comprise only 77% of the undocumented population in the United States, the Warren Institute finds that Latinos make up 93% of those arrested through the program.

What's the solution? The report makes these recommendations.

  • End S-Comm and halt its implementation in all jurisdictions.
  • Stop compelling localities and states to participate in immigration enforcement programs, including S-Comm.
  • Stop entangling local law enforcement and federal civil immigration functions.
  • Review other ICE Access programs to determine whether they suffer from the same flaws as S-Comm, and change or eliminate them accordingly.
  • Stop allowing S-Comm to serve as a shield for racial profiling and other civil rights abuses by deporting victims and witnesses before abuses can be reported, documented and investigated.
  • Restore judicial discretion and due process protections in immigration detention.
  • End mandatory detention by repealing section 236© of the Immigration and Nationality Act and release immigration detainees who are in mmigration custody based on discretionary decisions by ICE.

For the latest updates on the Secure Communities Program, check out Uncover the Truth: ICE and Police Collaborations.

Here are the actual documents obtained:

The Center for Constitutional Rights Secure Communities page with all the legal pleadings and analysis is here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    This is awful. I thought (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Towanda on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 08:06:09 PM EST
    that a case here was unusual, when a high school student born in England was deported after a traffic accident -- a bad one, but still, this was a juvenile.  (She had been raised here, and her parents had to stay here for a while for the other kids and to sell the house, etc., so the high school student had to live with relatives there.)  Now it seems that was not that unusual at all.

    And my town also has had the headlines about Mexicans in traffic accidents being deported, the squawk radio freeks going ballistic about it -- but in these numbers nationwide?  Awful.

    And yes, how the heck were U.S. citizens deported?  I know that happened in past to U.S. women who married immigrants who were deported, but that was almost a century ago.  What the ???

    And now I'm going to have to get into the documents to see if there is tracking over time of these numbers -- that is, are they decreasing over the last decade or actually increasing under the current administration, a Dem . . . as I fear?

    I think US citizens were arrested, not deported (none / 0) (#2)
    by cymro on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 08:22:27 PM EST
    At least, that's how it reads to me.

    Ah, I can see how you parse that (none / 0) (#3)
    by Towanda on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 10:57:59 PM EST
    from the language above, and that makes more sense.

    Well, no, it still doesn't make sense to "apprehend" and arrest people who are citizens for alleged violations possible only by non-citizens . . . but at least the harassment stopped short of putting them on a plane to parts unknown.  Thanks.


    Google "American citizens deported" (none / 0) (#4)
    by sj on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 02:08:58 AM EST
    It happens, alas.  And some of the stories are truly egregious.

    1.6 per cent is amazing (none / 0) (#5)
    by diogenes on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 04:51:49 PM EST
         You defense lawyers out there must surely agree that the criminal justice system arrests a much higher percentage of people who are not "guilty" of the charge they were arrested for.  Maybe the ICE people can teach the regular police something.
         When I googled US citizens being deported, this implied that they were wrongfully deported due to failures in the system.  So fix the system.