Monday, May 31, 2010

A closer look at The Secure Communities Program ( H.R.2892 -- SC/CIRCA) -- [PART ONE]

By Aurora Grajeda
No doubt, Immigration is the hottest issue in the United States, anti-immigrant sentiment is running at a feverish pace thus allowing for decisions that many consider ill thought out and badly implemented.
The first thing that needs to be said is that this is a very old and recurring story, it's genesis can be traced back roughly 152 years, since then, it keeps erupting every time there are difficult economic times which result in the need to find the 'guilty' ones, time and time again, immigrants have been the preferred choice for scapegoating, rather than taking an honest look at the real causes of both, the economic downturns and the mass migration of people affected by US Corporatist Policies.
While this post is not about the history of anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States, it is important to mention that it is very old indeed and that many groups have been the targets, the nationalities or ethnic characteristics may change, but the words and the actions, do not; Mexicans, Chinese, Italian, Germans, Japanese and who can forget the anti-Irishs ignominies? All of these were/are fueled by a mixture of Racism, Xenophobia, Nativism, etc.
The Anti-Immigrant Rage is as old as the Nation Itself.
The latest examples are the SB1070 Arizona Law and The Secure Communities programs rapid expansion, California is one of the States which signed on to participate, in San Francisco, it is scheduled to be in effect June 1st., yes, tomorrow, and is planned to be implemented in all the US by 2013.
San Francisco's Sheriff, Michael Hennessey, is one of the many Law Enforcement Officials raising the alarm and voicing concerns that this program in reality will make our communities less safe, will interfere with their Law Enforcement duties and will add economic burdens to their already cash-strapped municipalities.
Sheriff Hennessey, voiced his concerns directly to California's Attorney General Jerry Brown with a request to allow San Francisco to opt out of Secure Communities, ICE's latest federal-local law enforcement collaboration.
AG Brown's letter:
"Dear Sheriff Hennessey:

I am writing in response to your letter regarding the Secure Communities program developed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The program is scheduled to be rolled out in San Francisco next month. You requested that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) block ICE from running checks on the fingerprints collected in San Francisco. The Secure Communities program is up and running in 169 counties in 20 states, including 17 counties in California. Because I think this program serves both public safety and the interest of justice, I am declining your request...

... I appreciate your concern. But I believe that working with the federal government in this matter advances important and legitimate law enforcement objectives.


Attorney General."

Albeit the high regard in which CA AG J. Brown's opinions are held, as California's Top Law Enforncement Officer, his "I think.." and "I believe..." Fall far short of what is to be expected of such High Ranking Law Enforcement Officer as an explanation as to why Sheriff Hennessey's requests is being declined.

CA AG J. Brown, needs to be asked to expand on how the participation of California with the Secure Communities Program came to be the State's decision to participate, who was involved in this decision? Was the Law Enforcement Community consulted on how this would impact their duties? The answer to this question appears to be in line with what the Appropriations Committe expected from ICE to ascertain before implementation of CIRCA, also, an explanation is owned to the people of California to this question: Did the Attorney General entered into, and is following the dictates, of a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with individual states prohibits them from providing information about Secure Communities to the media, without first getting the consent of ICE?

There seems to be a veil of secrecy RE this program, so I thought it could be a good idea to inform myself a little more about it, here are a couple of points on what I found out, I hope that better prepared persons also do take a closer look to determine, not only what it is, but if the provisions and the spirit of the bill are being observed and followed, are they?

"Secure Communities: A Comprehensive Plan to Identify and Remove Criminal Aliens (Secure Communities/CIRCA) -- ( H.R.2892 -- SC/CIRCA)
In the 2008 and 2009 Appropriations Acts, Congress provided $350,000,000 in unrequested funding to initiate the Comprehensive Identification and Removal of Criminal Aliens (CIRCA) program, which ICE has renamed `Secure Communities.' In addition, in the 2009 Appropriations Act, Congress directed that at least $1,000,000,000 of ICE's budget be used to identify aliens convicted of crimes, and to ensure their removal once they have been judged deportable.
Using the funds previously appropriated for Secure Communities, ICE has instituted an effective pilot program that locates criminal aliens through coordination with local jail facilities, while maintaining the clear division between the law enforcement roles of Federal and local officers. In brief, the ICE system known as `Interoperability' allows local law enforcement agencies to check fingerprints of individuals booked on criminal charges against both national criminal and immigration databases. If an individual is identified through this system as illegally present in the United States, ICE can take appropriate steps to ensure the most dangerous of these criminals are deported upon completion of their jail sentences, while those convicted of lesser crimes are identified and deported as resources allow.
While the Committee supports Secure Communities, it also believes ICE must work to make sure the program's implementation does not negatively impact other aspects of the judicial system and allows for appropriate transparency for those prosecuted for immigration violations. In particular, the Committee has heard concerns from some jurisdictions that ICE detains individuals in immigration custody while criminal charges are still pending against them, effectively trumping the administration of criminal justice. To minimize this occurrence, it is imperative for ICE field agents to maintain regular communication with local jails and courts on the actions ICE takes relative to individuals who are identified through the local booking process. Furthermore, in order to track the program's performance and effectiveness, the Committee expects ICE to maintain and regularly update performance data from the locations where the Secure Communities program has been implemented, and to report frequently on the results of the program, both to the public and the Congress.
In addition to its Secure Communities initiative, the Committee believes ICE must do more with its existing programs to ensure that it is focusing its efforts on those who represent the greatest threats to society and civil order. Whether it be efforts to locate at-large criminals through the Fugitive Operations program, disrupt transnational criminal gangs through targeted investigations, or more effective use of the Interoperability system at prisons where ICE personnel are already stationed, the agency must make sure it is doing all that it can to find and remove criminals who have been judged deportable. In an analysis of its 2009 budget, ICE reported to the Committee that it will spend $1,411,795,000 on these efforts, well in excess of the $1,000,000,000 Congress directed be allocated to these activities. Recognizing the increased funding provided both for the Secure Communities program and other activities related to apprehending criminal aliens, the Committee directs ICE to use not less than $1,500,000,000 of its 2010 budget to address this issue.
Title: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010
Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] (introduced 6/16/2009) Cosponsors (None)
Related Bills:
H.RES.573, H.RES.829, S.1298
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-83 [GPO:
Text, PDF]
House Reports:
111-157; Latest Conference Report: 111-298 (in Congressional Record H11195-11257)
Through SC/CIRCA, each of ICE's Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) field offices will be notified of any potential immigration match from these automatic database checks and can take action quickly even if the dangerous criminal alien is no longer in custody.
1 . Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (Reported in House)[H.R.2892.RH][PDF]
2 . Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by House)
3 . Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (Placed on Calendar in Senate)
4 . Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by Senate)
5 . Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Print)
6 . Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)

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