Today, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard welcomed reforms announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton to the controversial Secure Communities program (S-Comm). In a memo issued to agency personnel, Morton declared that orders to hold suspected undocumented immigrants would only be issued to local law enforcement departments for individuals who: A) have committed serious crimes, multiple misdemeanors or immigration fraud; B) entered the country unlawfully on multiple occasions; or, C) otherwise represent a threat to public safety or national security. ICE also released figures showing that overall deportations had increased from about 396,000 in fiscal year 2011 to nearly 410,000 in FY 2012.
"These long overdue reforms represent an important step in the right direction," said Rep. Roybal-Allard. "Contrary to its stated goals, the vast majority of those deported through Secure Communities were never convicted of a crime and at least 3,600 Americans have found themselves unjustly detained because of the deeply flawed ICE initiative. Coming just days after it was announced that our government has deported more than 200,000 parents of U.S. citizen children over the past two years--many through Secure Communities--this new policy should help to ensure that fewer American kids will grow up without their mothers and fathers."
Rep. Roybal-Allard also condemned the rising pace of deportations. "At almost 410,00 people, ICE's overall removal statistics tell a troubling story. They are a reflection of the deeply misguided belief that mass deportations are the way to solve America's immigration challenges. Our immigration authorities should be pursuing felons instead of families, and yet fully 45 percent of those expelled from the U.S. were never convicted of a crime. Frankly, the agency's results still don't match its rhetoric. These numbers are another startling reminder of the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform."
ICE also announced that it would be discontinuing the "Task Force Model" of the discriminatory 287(g) program, which deputizes local police to conduct immigration enforcement. However, the program's "Jail Model," in which officers screen people arrested and booked into jail, will unfortunately continue. Last week, Rep. Roybal-Allard led the Congressional Hispanic, Black, Asian Pacific American and Progressive Caucuses in sending a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, calling for the 287(g) program to be terminated.