Monday, May 7, 2012

AZMEX I3 1-5-12

AZMEX I3 1 MAY 2012

Note: From HST

ICE Response To Secure Communities Task Force Findings Draws Mixed
By: Anthony Kimery
05/01/2012 ( 9:24am)

Not surprisingly, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) long-
awaited April 27 response to the final report of the Homeland
Security Advisory Council's (HSAC) task force on the Department of
Homeland Security's (DHS) controversial Secure Communities (S-Comm)
program has provoked strong reactions from both advocates and
opponents of S-Comm.

"The only way to meaningfully repair the Secure Communities program
is to go back to what it was originally described to be -- a program
that focuses on the identification and removal of those who are
convicted of a serious criminal offense. The task force made an
effort to get the program back to those roots," task force member
Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration
Council, said in a prepared statement about the ICE response to the
Task Force on Secure Communities Findings and Recommendations.

"I regret that the hard work of the DHS-convened task force was
unable to persuade DHS to take more aggressive steps to repair this
troubled program," Johnson added, noting that, "While DHS has
acknowledged the troubled history of this program and has recommitted
to previously announced reforms that it hopes can improve
transparency and strengthen civil rights protections, DHS should have
committed to a delay in the program's expansion until the effect of
any modifications could be adequately evaluated."

"Moreover," Johnson continued, "on the key recommendations [of the
September 2011 Task Force [report] on Secure Communities Findings and
Recommendations] dealing with how to respond to an increasing number
of arrests for traffic offenses and misdemeanors, DHS has rejected
the recommendations of the task force."

"Unfortunately, these minor modifications fall far short," said
Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legislative
counsel. "S-Comm facilitates racial profiling of Latinos and people
of color, as well as unwarranted detention, arrests and deportations
of US citizens. The inadequate changes announced by DHS do not
address the many overarching, and well-evidenced, problems with S-
Comm that have plagued the country since 2008. If DHS was serious
about avoiding profiling of Latinos and racial minorities, it would
end S-Comm now."

The ACLU said in a statement that "S-Comm has led to the deportation
of tens of thousands of immigrants with no or minor criminal records"
and "has also contributed to the Obama administration's deportation
of 46,486 parents of US citizen children in the first half of 2011,
resulting in at least 5,100 of these children being placed in foster
care. By comparison, in the entire decade between 1998 and 2007,
about 100,000 such parents were deported."

Elsewhere, though, the Federation for American Immigration Reform
(FAIR) charged that ICE's response to the task force's
recommendations served to weaken the Secure Communities program and
is the "latest target in [the administration's] systematic
dismantling of US immigration enforcement."

FAIR said ICE "will no longer initiate enforcement actions against
deportable aliens identified by the Secure Communities program who
have committed 'minor' criminal offenses," which the group said
"represents the Obama administration's latest assault on immigration
enforcement … The new policy is the next step in the administration's
effort to ensure that only aliens who have been convicted of violent
crimes will be subject to deportation."

FAIR noted that "Secure Communities cross-checks the fingerprints of
every person arrested by state and local police against a variety of
federal databases, including a DHS database of immigration law
violators," and that "deportable aliens who are identified through
the Secure Communities program are turned over to ICE, rather than
released on bail." But "the new policy will dramatically limit the
number of deportable aliens in state and local jails who ICE takes
action against."

"Today's action is clear evidence that this administration will not
quit until most immigration enforcement apparatus in the US is shut
down and should be a clear signal that this administration believes
the violation of immigration laws is entirely inconsequential," said
FAIR President Dan Stein. "The removal of violent criminal aliens
only has been the lone factor in the administration's ability to
maintain the pretense that it is enforcing our immigration laws."

Stein said, "Programs which rely on local law enforcement, like
Secure Communities and 287(g) – a congressionally established program
that trains local police to identify and detain illegal aliens – have
provided ICE with a pipeline to identify deportable aliens. The
administration is phasing out 287(g) entirely, and now they are
limiting the use of Secure Communities so that non-criminal aliens
are ultimately released back onto the street."

"The latest ICE announcement is part of the administration's effort
to prevent state and local authorities from playing a role in
immigration enforcement," FAIR said, adding, "The administration has
made it abundantly clear through lawsuits and other actions that it
does not want to enforce most US immigration laws and it will not
tolerate state and local policies that get in the way of their
political objectives."

"We are rapidly approaching the point where violent criminal aliens
will be the only people who will be subject to immigration
enforcement," Stein concluded.

The task force was asked to consider how ICE may improve the Secure
Communities program, including how to address some of the concerns
about the program that relate to its impact on community policing and
the possibility of racial profiling, and how to best focus on
individuals who pose true public safety or national security threats.
In addition, the task force was specifically charged with making
recommendations on how ICE can adjust the Secure Communities program
to mitigate potential impacts on community policing practices,
including how to implement policies regarding the removal of those
charged with, but not convicted of, minor traffic offenses who have
no other criminal history.

The task force concluded that, "There is broad consensus in the
nation that persons convicted of serious crimes who are in the United
States illegally should be subject to deportation," and that "ICE
must build on that consensus by implementing systematic mechanisms to
ensure that Secure Communities adheres to its stated enforcement
objective of prioritizing those who pose a risk to public safety or
national security."

The task force further concluded that "ICE should clarify that civil
immigration law violators and individuals who are convicted of or
charged with misdemeanors or other minor offenses are not top
enforcement priorities unless there are other indicia that they pose
a serious risk to public safety or national security," and that "DHS
must exercise its prosecutorial discretion, in all its immigration
enforcement endeavors, in line with stated enforcement priorities,
and take systematic steps to train and monitor field officers and
attorneys as they implement departmental policies on prosecutorial

The Task Force on Secure Communities is a subcommittee of HSAC and
was created in June 2011 at the request of the secretary of Homeland
Security. The HSAC, which is composed of leaders from state and local
government, first responder agencies, the private sector and
academia, provides advice and recommendations to the secretary on
matters related to homeland security.

In its response to the HSAC task force on Secure Communities, ICE
said it "agrees that persons convicted of serious crimes who are in
the United States illegally should be deported and that Secure
Communities should first prioritize those individuals who pose a risk
to public safety and national security," but that it also must
continue to prioritize "recent illegal entrants, individuals who have
repeatedly violated immigration laws and aliens who are fugitives."

ICE noted that it "has set clear civil enforcement priorities, which
apply to all ICE enforcement activities including Secure
Communities." They were spelled out in a March 2, 2011, memorandum
from Director John Morton, titled Civil Immigration Enforcement:
Priorities for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens.

"ICE's highest priority is aliens who pose a danger to national
security or a risk to public safety, including aliens convicted of
crimes, with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons and
repeat offenders," the agency maintained, but, "where resources
permit, ICE also prioritizes recent illegal entrants, individuals who
have repeatedly violated immigration laws and aliens who are fugitives."

Through fiscal year 2011, 94 percent of all removals identified
through Secure Communities fell within these stated priorities, ICE
pointed out. Statistics on individuals identified and removed through
Secure Communities can be found here.

As for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, policy directives
provide "guidance to ICE law enforcement personnel and attorneys
regarding their authority to exercise discretion when appropriate,"
ICE's response to the HSAC task force's findings stated. "This
authority is designed to help ICE better focus its limited resources
on identifying and removing criminal aliens, those that otherwise put
public safety at risk, egregious immigration law violators and recent
border crossers."

ICE said its fiscal year 2011 year-end removal numbers show that "90
percent of all ICE removals fell into one of ICE's priority areas for
enforcement. Of the total removals, nearly 55 percent were convicted
of felonies or misdemeanors — a 89 percent increase in the number of
criminals removed, compared to fiscal year 2008."

ICE stated, "These trends underscore the administration's focus on
removing individuals from the country that fall into priority areas
for enforcement."

The HSAC also recommended that, "ICE should clarify that civil
immigration law violators and individuals who are convicted of, or
charged with, misdemeanors or other minor offenses are not top
enforcement priorities unless there are other indicia that they pose
a serious risk to public safety or national security."

ICE responded that it "agrees that felons should be a higher priority
than misdemeanants and civil immigration law violators," however,
"certain serious misdemeanants and egregious civil immigration law
violators are priorities as well. The Civil Enforcement Priorities
memorandum states that ICE's top enforcement priority includes aliens
convicted of crimes, with higher priority given to individuals
convicted of more serious crimes. The memorandum also states that
some misdemeanors are relatively minor and do not warrant the same
degree of focus as others, and that ICE agents and officers should
exercise particular discretion when dealing with minor traffic
offenses such as driving without a license."

ICE said its "memo, which has been continually reaffirmed in
subsequent guidance documents and policy [further explained] that for
purposes of prioritizing the removal of aliens convicted of crimes,
ICE personnel should prioritize individuals in the following order:
Level 1 offenders: aliens convicted of 'aggravated felonies,' as
defined in § 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or
two or more crimes each punishable by more than one year, commonly
referred to as 'felonies;'
Level 2 offenders: aliens convicted of any felony or three or more
crimes each punishable by less than one year, commonly referred to as
'misdemeanors;' and
Level 3 offenders: aliens convicted of crimes punishable by less than
one year."
The memorandum explained "that individuals who are not criminals
but who are repeat border crossers, recently unlawful entrants, or
fugitives from the immigration court system are also priorities for

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