ICE Partners With San Diego County, Seeks Presence in 3,100 Jails

Written by on November 18, 2008 in Enforcement, Interior Enforcement with 14 Comments

San Diego County recently announced that it would soon be partnering with ICE and dedicating its energy to identifying immigrants in jail for deportation.ICE unveiled its new program – The Secure Communities Program – in March 2008.It gives jails access to ICE and FBI databases so that they can identify inmates who lack legal status or have a criminal history and then turn them over to ICE for deportation. Through this new initiative, ICE plans to eventually have a presence in every one of the 3,100 local jails throughout the U.S.

While removing dangerous criminals from the U.S. is an understandable goal, Secure Communities appears to be the latest in ICE’s attempts to get states and localities to do their jobs for them.The best known of these is the 287(g) program, through which local police are trained by ICE, and agree to jointly enforce immigration laws.

But are these programs really good for localities?We already know that ICE has trouble responding to police requests in a timely fashion.While ICE will prioritize dangerous criminals, past experience has shown that the agency may not have the resources to respond to calls to pick up prisoners from 3,100 jails across the country.Local jails will likely end up paying to detain immigrants for long periods of time.Rather than spending its time picking up and deporting run-of-the-mill undocumented immigrants from jails ICE should probably be dedicated its limited resources to going after violent offenders, traffickers, kingpins, and terrorists.

Programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) pose other problems as well.Not everyone in jail is a criminal, but people who are briefly detained before being cleared may end up getting deported.Some unscrupulous police departments may engage in racial profiling, picking up people they suspect of being undocumented and landing them in jail so their immigration status can be checked.This can mean costly litigation and settlements footed by the taxpayers.The FBI and DHS databases contain errors, and at least one database has been exempted from the Privacy Act requirement that the data be accurate.These errors can result in the deportation of the wrong people.Police agencies and jails are already stretched, and they don’t have unlimited resources to devote to doing the federal government’s job.Just the mere suggestion that police are working with ICE on immigration enforcement sends a chill through immigrant communities, meaning some people won’t cooperate with the police and report crimes, and the entire community is less safe.

It’s time for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization program for those who learn English, pay back taxes, pay a fine, and have no criminal history.Taking roughly 12 million people off the table would allow local police and the federal government to really concentrate their energies on truly dangerous threats to people in this country.

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  • Heiderose Kober

    287(g) programs are routinely used in NC by racist sheriffs, like the ones in Alamance and Johnston County, to detain ordinary, hard-working immigrants and turn them over to ICE if they are found to lack adequate documentation. The “crimes” these people were arrested for? Fishing without a license, using an assumed name to receive prenatal care, and – most often – driving without a license. Since undocumented immigrants can no longer get a driver’s license in NC, that is the perfect set-up. One of the Alamance County commissioners, Tim Sutton who was instrumental in getting the 287(g) program into the county, was recently interviewed by the N&O. When asked how he felt about the program tearing apart families and hurting innocent children, he responded that “like in a war, there is going to be collateral damage.”

    These people are not criminals. They are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, in short, family and community members.

  • Heiderose Kober–thanks for your comment. You might be interested in an older article on Immigration Impact as well: “NC Sheriff Steve Bizzell Trashes Immigrants”

  • My brother always told me when it comes to politics, follow the money. The 287(g) program is like crack to local communities looking for a way to score a buck from the Federal Government.

    I have a theory on any Sherrif that wants to get involved in 287(g). First he/she must consent to being dropped blindfolded and penniless and without identity documents into a 3rd world foreign country where they know no one and do not speak the native language.

    If they ever make it back to the local stateside community, then and only then can they make a presentation to the County Board on the benefits of

    I cannot believe the lack of foresight of local community leaders who get involved in this evil program. What good can possibly come of deporting the spouse or parent of a US Citizen?

    Can anyone possibly buy into the theory that if you arrest the income earner and leave his US Citizen wife and children abandoned by deportation action, that there will be a positive effect on the local community and economy?

    Marriage and Family are a sacred and important social institution which should not be interfered with by the government.

  • Dave Anderson

    Has anyone noticed that the advent of 287G around the country hearlded the coming of the current economic dog days? Those in charge don’t realize this action seals the pockets not only of the 12 million undocumented but puts a halt to the spending and investing of their families.

    How many million people need to stop spending to create a major downturn?

    Dave Anderson

  • chicagonut

    Sorry to disagree but we must enforce our immigration laws. Those who violted them are responsible for their own actions and families. We are a nation of laws and we have immigration laws and policies in place for good reasons. Any so-called economic downturn due to deporting illegal aliens and their families we would recoup from. Any amnesty such as the 1986 one would just encourage more illegal aliens to come here waiting for the next amnesty. Time to secure our borders and insist that immigrants come here legally.

  • “It’s time for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization program for those who learn English, pay back taxes, pay a fine, and have no criminal history.”

    Leaving aside the “bend” toward a racially homogeneous nation state (contained in the agreement with the connection between language facility and a healthy citizenry), your piece suggests an immediate need for far more aggressive policy transformations than just the above: it is time for ICE to be dismantled and reworked into a bureaucratic entity reflecting its actual need and disabling its ability to terrorize Latinos at will.

  • Jesus Nerio

    If the 10 year bar was removed and “extreme hardship” defined as “separation of the marital union,” the number of undocumented individuals would be reduced to almost nothing.

  • MdeG

    That’s the truth you spoke, Jesus Nerio. Though I’d throw out the 3-year bar, and include separation with minor children as well.

  • MuttNation

    I see it as important to have more than these types of headlines on this site. This site should be used to showcase the incredible contributions of immigrants to this country. Including examples of different pathways to eventual “citizenship” and showing the commitment and dedication of the average immigrant is a great combatant to the “LOU DOBBS” type of rhetoric that is causing hate to explode. I don’t have a problem with showing what is “wrong” with the system. However, we should also be seeing what is “right”.

  • Great looking blog, IPC! Thanks for taking it upon yourselves to fight the myths. Feel free to stop by our Dreamer-led site as well. 😀

  • chicagonut

    ICE is terrorizing Latinos? If they are in our country illegally or are aiders and abettors THEY SHOULD BE TERRORIZED. Look up the word terrorize in the dictionary and cut the melodramatics meant to illicit sympathy for law breakers and their enablers.

  • xessq

    OMG! we might SCARE the ILLEGAL ALIENS away….

    now we can’t let that happen can we….

  • Dave Anderson

    For Chicagonut and others,
    Let’s pretend that:
    1. We are a law-abiding country.
    2. Our ancestors came legally.
    3. We aren’t facing an enormous economic problem of too few young workers to support social security.
    4. The 1986 amnesty was supposed stop future illegal immigration and therefore didn’t work.
    5. None of us would break the law of any country to support our families.
    6. As Americans we don’t have a responsibility to behave as Americans, blessed by God. We say “God bless America” because it sounds good.

    1. We are a nation of law breakers….one out every 100 adults in this country is incarcerated.
    2. Unless they came in the past 50-60 years they probably didn’t….different laws, different means.
    3-6 You figure them out.

    Dave Anderson