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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Obama administration is expanding a flawed immigration enforcement measure that runs contrary to immigration reform

Obama administration is expanding a flawed immigration enforcement measure that runs contrary to immigration reform

LatinaLista — It was reported today that the Obama administration is expanding an immigration program that was started under the Bush administration.

It entails checking the immigration status of people booked into local jails. The idea being that those who are found to be undocumented and who have served their time for their crimes will be deported versus let back into US society.
On the surface, this sounds like a very good program. After all, no one wants rapists, murderers or thieves let back into society if they don’t have a legal right to be here, but this program is flawed on a variety of levels.
Rather than just expanding a flawed program, the Obama administration would do better to re-evaluate it and implement an improved version and one that reflects that this administration understands what true immigration reform means.


The program is already being implemented in 48 counties across the country and is known as the Secure Communities program.
The whole premise of the program is very high-tech and utilizes biometric technologies and access to a series of databases that should hold the information law enforcement officials need to make a determination about the legal status of a person.
The problem is that while the back-end of the program is high-tech, the front-end of the program which determines the criminality of the person is still processed by low-tech methods — which runs the high-risk of prejudice and discrimination.
According to ICE, “the incarcerated criminal alien population in the U.S. is estimated at between 300,000 & 450,000.”
A logical assumption is that the so-called “criminal alien population” includes people who have been picked up for such offenses as jaywalking, public intoxication or buying a false social security number — hardly the kinds of crimes that constitute serious threats to society.
While critics of undocumented immigrants will always argue that undocumented immigrants are indeed criminals because they broke US immigration laws, even they have to concede that there is a big difference between someone who murders versus someone who uses a false social security card.
If someone feels there is no difference between these two sets of examples then their discrimination has already colored any sense of fairness or objectivity and their views are discounted in this argument.
And that is the crux of the problem with the Secure Communities program.
Up until now, this program has not done a very good job of identifying and penalizing people who commit heinous crimes versus those people labeled as criminals because of their legal status.
In the process, law-abiding members of families and/or persons, in every other way, have been carted off to jail or their names entered in the databases as criminals targeted for removal, without any legal recourse to pursue citizenship or petition to legally stay in this country.
The Secure Communities program looks at everyone the same without taking into consideration the facts of their individual situations.
If the program can implement such high-tech measures to identify people by their unique fingerprints then it should also be able to evaluate each person’s unique situation to determine 1. If the nature of their crime really was a crime that poses a serious threat to society’s safety and warrants removal and 2. Their length of stay in the country.
Far too many undocumented immigrants have been in this country for over 10, 20, 30 years. They’ve operated within the confines of the law, with the exception of not having their proper paperwork.
For some of these people, especially the young people, this country is the only country they know as home. To deport them would be an unusually cruel punishment, especially if they are not guilty of a heinous crime.
For those who do commit heinous crimes, and have lived so long in this country that they only identify with the United States, and have served their prison sentences, they should be allowed to remain here to rejoin their families and, hopefully, be rehabilitated.
However, for those immigrants who come over to specifically commit murders, kidnappings, etc. on the orders of the Mexican drug cartels, these people do need to be deported — but they should not be confused with the millions of immigrants who have positively contributed to this society and lack only a piece of paper.

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Comment(9)

  • MaryElizabeth
    May 20, 2009 at 1:17 am

    This is the CHANGE that I some of us worked so hard to support that is not the CHANGE on Immigration that I want to hear.
    A Report by the ACLU States: MYTH: Immigrants commit an inordinate amount of crime. FACT: A 2008 study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California reveals that U.S. born men ages 18-40 are ten times more likely to be in jail or prison in California than foreign-born,first-generation men in the same age category. A 2008 study of immigrants in Chicago found that increased immigration was a significant reason for the decrease in crime throughout the 1990s. Measuring crime rates between 1990 and 2004, the report found that first- and second-generation immigrants less likely to commit crimes. The 2008 study of Chicago immigration reported lower crime rates in areas with high concentrations of immigrants, dispelling the common myth that areas with a large number of immigrants suffer from crime and disorder. When local police take on enforcement of the immigration laws, immigrants begin to fear them and become reluctant to report crimes or come forward as witness or victims. This undermines public safety for all of us. In November 2007, a Newark police officer became the first person disciplined for violating the Attorney Generals directive when he asked a crime witness about his immigration status. The witness, an immigrant who in 2001 had received the Newark Police Departments Citizen Award for assisting the Newark Police in solving crimes, had contacted the police after discovering a dead body. His help was “rewarded” with inquiries about his immigration status. As the article states above I do fear that on a local level the directives that are intended to only detain and deport real criminals will be taken out of context and abused. It is imperative that activist groups pressure the Obama administration to CHANGE shift on his directives and correct our broken immigration system before more horrific situations occur with innocent immigrants that are victims of the system.

  • Horace
    May 20, 2009 at 6:42 am

    “While critics of undocumented immigrants will always argue that undocumented immigrants are indeed criminals because they broke US immigration laws, even they have to concede that there is a big difference between someone who murders versus someone who uses a false social security card.”
    This is a dumb notion as it would seem that an illegal alien would actually have to kill someone before they should be deported, and I guess that people who engage in fraud are the kind of people Marisa desires as citizens. Most citizens do not look kindly on forgiving illegal aliens for crimes that they themselves would be imprisoned for, so you it isn’t prudent to belittle purchasing a SS Card to commit fraud. I doubt that Marisa’s pooh pooing arguments would get very far with the average citizen who isn’t an advocate for illegal aliens, because only advocates are so quick to forgive. Better to put yourself in the position of the average American and stick with trying to keep the law abiding illegal aliens in the U.S. Marisa, as to do otherwise only discredits their case further and puts the an amnesty out of reach when it might be otherwise achievable. This amnesta’s argument will have a similar affect to the marches which angered so many citizens.
    “If someone feels there is no difference between these two sets of examples then their discrimination has already colored any sense of fairness or objectivity and their views are discounted in this argument.”
    Oh really? Then you’ve just discounted a lot of people who would support an amnesty for illegal aliens. It doesn’t look very good to those people who would otherwise grudingly accept those who have no criminal background.
    Marisa, you assume that there is strong support for your cause, but you are wrong and you need everyone you can get on board. You advocates don’t know when to stop when asking for clemency for your constituents. Overreaching is exactly why you will fail in any amnesty agenda.

  • Texan123
    May 20, 2009 at 10:17 am

    It does not matter how long they have been here. If they came illegally, they knew they could be deported. If they steal SS numbers and jobs, and then break the law—they need to be removed from the US. Even for driving without auto insurance.
    Why do advocates seem to feel that any and all illegal acts by immigrants should be excused? If they want to be Americans, obey American laws. Stop placing yourselves above the law and forcing U.S Citizens to accept your priviledged status.
    You reap what you sow. Using Fraud and lies for personal gain will not be rewarded.

  • Horace
    May 20, 2009 at 11:40 am

    ME said: “MYTH: Immigrants commit an inordinate amount of crime. FACT: A 2008 study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California reveals that U.S. born men ages 18-40 are ten times more likely to be in jail or prison in California than foreign-born,first-generation men in the same age category. A 2008 study of immigrants in Chicago found that increased immigration was a significant reason for the decrease in crime throughout the 1990s. Measuring crime rates between 1990 and 2004, the report found that first- and second-generation immigrants less likely to commit crimes.”
    The problem with this is that it refers to legal immigrants who came here with visas and had a background check. Since they took the trouble of applying and wouldn’t have been accepted if they had failed such checks, naturally they would likely be more law abiding than people born here. We’re stuck with the criminal element inherent in any population of human beings that were born here and ruin the group record for the rest of us honest folk. One can always state that legal immigrants are more honest than the larger born-here pool of citizens because the legal immigrants were cherry picked for that reason. Duh! The same cannot be said of illegal aliens (so-called undocumented) because we get the criminal element with illegal immigrants as well as the rest, due to the fact that they never subjected to inspection and the bums weeded out. Duh!
    ME’s tripe gets repeated by all of the advocacy drones and doesn’t get anymore valid with the telling or the numbers of times it’s repeated.

  • cookie
    May 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Regardless, whether one wants to believe the ACLU or Numbers USA stats on the benefits, costs or crimes of illegal aliens, the bottom line is that they are here illegally and should be deported. No other argument whether they are a net positive or a net negative holds any water.

  • MaryElizabeth
    May 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Recent polls show that 61% of Americans are in favor of Common Sense Immigration Reform. Horace you make stuff up as you go along…you can not pull numbers out of your hat. Marisa’s arguments have strong support from the vast majority of US citizen because Americans know the system is broken and realise immigration reform is such a complex issue that they would like to see reform as a whole package rather than bits and pieces. What’s at Stake?…As a the bi-partisan ACLU states in a Report…/This country is know for its history of welcoming waves of immigrants and allowing them to pursue the American dream. The people we have welcomed have enriched our economy, culture and security. Unfortunately, we also have a record of rejecting newcomers based on fear and ignorance. Most of us are only one, two or three generations away from an immigrant relative who benefited from the opportunities this country offers. The riches we enjoy all flow from that first welcome. We must look beyond fear and misunderstanging and put policies in place to increase our national security and economic well-being while recognizing the sacrosanct principals of fairness and justice upon which the country was founded and must still stand.

  • Irma
    May 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I did not vote for Barak Obama in part because I was not convinced he would keep his promises regarding immigration reform.
    I was RIGHT. Indeed, the Obama administration has also failed in doing their homework regarding the implementation of putting stimulus funds into biomedical research.
    Recently the Obama administration announced that it was investing over
    10 million dollars into new funding for
    grants sponsored through the National
    Cancer Insittute. So the NCI basically
    said that this money could be used to
    basically extend by at least a year almost every type of grant that they fund. This was of course, sheer LUNACY as the NCI funds thousands of grants. So in the past month or so, the
    NCI has been flooded with literally
    tens of thousands of applications –
    all competing for a piece of that
    20 million dollars. The result will be that most grants wont be funded and those that do may or may not
    merit funding. This is how
    the Obama administration WASTES
    my taxpayer money. Someone
    needs to tell Barak Obama to research
    how money is given away by the government , so as to ensure that it will be given away responsibly.

  • Woodruf
    May 23, 2009 at 9:59 am

    That’s funny, ME, because the vast majority of all the comments to the articles I’ve ever read on illegal immigration have been negative. Try reading the comments to the Washington Post, the NY Times, et al, and you’ll see what I mean. The Rasmussen Polls have all been negative. Please cite your evidence.

  • Davdi R
    May 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I really don’t see how this policy is really a bad thing. Sure – it treats illegal immigrants who have been picked up for j-walking and armed assault the same by deporting them. But the thing the two groups possess in common is the fact they entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas and were living in the US illegally.
    But if both the j-walker and the felon had visas and were living or visiting the US legally, the felon would be deported while the j-walker would pay a fine and move on.
    I really don’t understand how we, in the US, through our Border Patrol and other immigration authorities, spending billions and billions of dollars trying to apprehend illegal immigrants at the border and other points of entry but when they’re successful making it into the country and settle in the US people argue that they should be allowed to stay.
    Does that make sense?
    Not to me.

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