In the past, IPC has reported on the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs and concerns that these partnerships between the federal and local governments have not succeeded in prioritizing serious criminals. New information sheds additional light on these programs and once again confirms that, despite pronouncements from ICE, they continue to identify, detain, and deport people who have not committed serious crimes and present no threat to our communities.

A new report from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) examines the 287(g) program in Davidson County, TN. Between May 2006 and July 2007, the percentage of Hispanics arrested for driving without a license increased by more than 20% (from 23.3% to 49.4%) while the number of non-Hispanic defendants declined by 25%. Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall’s 287(g) Two-Year Review shows that 98% of immigrants processed for deportation were from Latin America and 85% of those processed through 287(g) were misdemeanor arrests. Despite ICE’s statements that 287(g) is meant to target serious criminals, Sheriff Hall called the program a success because it had resulted in the apprehension of more than 5,300 undocumented immigrants, of which only 1.3% were gang members, none were suspected terrorists, and 60% had not been previously arrested in Davidson County or anywhere else in the U.S.

NCLR recounts the stories of several people who were not convicted of any crimes and posed no threat, but were processed and deported through 287(g):

On January 27, 2008, Noe Lopez was arrested for fishing without a license along the Cumberland River in Davidson County and taken to the Davidson County jail, where he was screened under 287(g). Despite the fact that he was never found guilty of any crime, he was nonetheless deported.

Jose Estrada was standing outside the building where he worked, waiting for his boss to arrive, when he was approached by police and asked for identification. Even after Jose produced his Individual Taxpayer Identification card and his boss arrived to verify his identity, he was charged with possessing a fake Social Security card and transported to the Davidson County jail. Although the charge was dismissed in court and he posed no credible threat to the community, Jose was process for deportation.

New data has also emerged on the Secure Communities program. ICE recently released documents in response to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request from the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON), the Center for Constitution Rights (CCR), and the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. These documents show that:

  • 79% of the people deported through Secure Communities are non-criminals or were picked up for lower level offenses, such as traffic offenses.
  • According to ICE’s data, since the program was initiated, 28% of the people transferred to ICE custody have been non-criminals.
  • Thus far, in FY2010, 32% of individuals transferred to ICE custody have been non-criminals.

The documents also include some interesting data from individual jurisdictions:

  • Nationwide, an average of 26% of all Secure Communities deportations are of non-criminals.
  • In Maricopa County, AZ, 54% of people deported through Secure Communities are non-criminals.
  • Travis County, TX has the highest percentage of non-criminal deportations. A full 82% of Secure Communities deportations are of non-criminals.

Congress has mandated that ICE prioritize the deportation of immigrants who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, and those with criminal histories. But time after time, ICE statistics show that immigrants who haven’t been convicted of any crimes or immigrants with misdemeanor arrests make up a large percentage of deportations. It doesn’t seem like a very good way for the federal government or local jurisdictions to be spending limited resources.

Photo by Meonomous