Obama Waffles on Secure Communities; Many California Cities Continue to be at Risk

Published on June 21st, 2011

According to the Los Angeles Times the Obama administration, despite several previous assurances from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, is softening deportation regulations as originally outlined under its Secure Communities program. [Government Alters Deportation Program, by Brian Bennett and Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2011]. Secure Communities is designed so that state and local law enforcement can submit the fingerprints of everyone arrested to the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to identify and possibly deport criminal aliens. Since its inception as a pilot program in 2008 under President George W. Bush, civil rights organizations and ethnic identity lobbyists have loudly insisted that non-criminal aliens get caught up in the web. President Obama, under attack by Republicans that he is unwilling to enforce federal immigration laws, is suddenly now also the target of angry Democrats including the governors of Massachusetts, New York and Illinois who refuse to participate in Secure Communities. California’s Jerry Brown, who supported Secure Communities when he was Attorney General has not taken a position since becoming governor. However, Los Angeles and Oakland city councils passed resolutions in support of a state bill that would make participation optional and then only apply to illegal immigrants convicted of felonies. In a conference call on Friday John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told reporters that under the new guidelines immigration officers will be instructed not to deport illegal immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses in a criminal case. At the same time, immigration enforcement agents and prosecutors will have expanded new powers to make deportation of violent criminals the top priority These revisions put Obama between a rock and a hard place. His change of heart allows Republicans to correctly claim that the president favors a stealth-type amnesty. If Secure Communities identifies an illegal alien but then ICE under the new Obama guidelines decides not to deport him because he has not committed a “violent crime,” Obama opens himself up to the criticism that he is accepting of and thereby encourages illegal immigration. Secure Communities is a valuable program that is the major reason behind a 70 percent increase in deportations of convicted criminals including those with multiple immigration violations during two years from 114,415 people in 2008 to 195,722 in 2010. The federal government should, without exception, have zero tolerance for illegal immigration.

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