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Immigration: Feds agree Secure Communities needs fixing


The Obama administration Friday announced changes to Secure Communities, a controversial program that requires state and local law enforcement to submit the fingerprints of everyone arrested to the Department of Homeland Security.

In recent months, the program has faced mounting criticism from immigrant and civil rights group as well as elected officials, who say it has failed to target criminals for deportation, and instead has resulted in the removal of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.

John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency in charge of deportations, said the modifications will ensure the program targets criminals.

The proposed changes look good, at least on paper. Among other things, Morton's memo instructs government’s attorneys to exercise prosecutorial discretion, especially in cases involving victims of and witnesses to crimes. 

Morton also calls for the creation of a committee comprised of law enforcement to deal with complaints that Secure Communities jeopardizes community policing efforts, especially in immigrant communities.

The problem is that Homeland Security has a history of issuing memos and instructions to immigration agents that then go unheeded.

For example, earlier this year Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were forced to investigate complaints that their agents surrounded a school in Detroit in search of undocumented immigrants. Parents and immigrant-rights groups said the agents created panic among some parents and students, according to published reports. Such a move would be a direct violation of a policy that forbids enforcement operations near schools.

And the agency’s own union has publicly come out against Morton, accusing him of not being tough enough on illegal immigrants. Last June, the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Union, comprised of agents and other employees, said its members cast a vote of no confidence in Morton.

Nearly 400,000 immigrants were deported last year by the Obama administration. That far exceeds the number deported in any given year during George W. Bush’s administration. The union’s claims seem to ignore that reality and the limits on the number of immigrants the government has the resources to remove.

Morton's memo does offer specific steps and details to improve Secure Communities.The question now is, will the rank and file follow the rules?


Immigration: Lock 'em up

Immigration: What the U.S. does right

Either scrap or revamp Secure Communities

Secure Communities and California's push to limit its impact

Should California suspend participation in Secure Communities?

-- Sandra Hernandez

Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, handles customs checks. Credit: Stephen Chernin / Getty Images


Comments () | Archives (11)

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Joel Wischkaemper

The problem is that Homeland Security has a history of issuing memos and instructions to immigration agents that then go unheeded.
Not exactly at all. By the oath of office, Border Patrol Agents are instructed to enforce the immigration laws. That is what they do. Many, many of the appointees of President Obama have assumed they were not bound by their oath of office, and have essentially dumped any law they didn't like. It doesn't work that way.

Sooo... the problem is...
Many, many of the appointees of President Obama have assumed they were not bound by their oath of office, and have essentially dumped any law they didn't like.

Enforce the law, and all of this goes away.


If by the Feds you mean the politically appointed administration shills, this isn't news. They are likely as pro-illegal immigration as Obama, who would give amnesty in a minute if he could get away with it politically. But the rank and file in the enforcement agency are more like and respect the views of most Americans who oppose illegal immigration and think enforcing the laws necessary for that end is worthwhile. Of course these political appointees who took oaths to uphold the laws of the country lied through their teeth, having just about as much respect for the truth as those who work at the LA Times.


While the program is being "fix" we can continue to use it as it is. Lets round them up before they bankrupt the state.

Mitchell Young

Too late, Warren, too late.

Mitchell Young

"The question now is, will the rank and file follow the rules?"

A bigger question is, will the Obama administration follow the rules. The Constitution says that Congress has the authority in immigration matters, not the executive branch. Immigration law does not say that if you make it past the border patrol you are scot-free. Or if you live here illegal X number of years without detection, you have some sort of squatter's rights. If the Obama admin wishes that to be the policy, if has to get Congress's approval -- otherwise it is bound to follow the law as it stands. If it does not, if it is a faithless agent towards Congress in promoting a sort of de facto amnesty, then the 'rank-and-file' is completely right to uphold their oaths to carry out the law as it comes down from the legitimate authority.


What a surprise... the L.A. Times is running a pro illegal immigrant article. Sorry, 'undocumented immigrant.' Perhaps the editors should read some of the comments posted whenever they run such articles--comments which reflect the way the vast majority of Americans feel about illegal immigration.

What's the point of maintaining a bias in articles and editorials which is contrary to the opinions of your readers? Are we less knowledgeable about the issue because we live with it everyday instead of discussing it over lattes? Is your goal to change our minds? I have a goal for you... one which is much more obtainable... UNBIASED REPORTING!


The only fix is affirmative action!


"And the agency’s own union has publicly come out against Morton" ---- Actually Morton received an unprecedented unanimous NO CONFIDENCE vote. I wonder why the LAT failed to mention that?

Morton's catch and release memos are known for their stupidity. A couple years ago, Morton was concerned that BP was arresting too many "mules", so he issued a memo to release border crossers found with less than 500 lbs of marijuana. Cartels started sending weed in 450 lb bundles so that they could re-use their mules. Agents hate putting their lives on the line only to see illegals released to appease some political action group.

So, once again, the Obama administration will re-tool an effective program to make sure that it does not work.


This is a blatant move to gain the hispanic vote, pure and simple. If it gets in the way of someone illegaly entering the nation, Obama, Morton and the like seem unconcerned. The illegal immigrants are using up our resources-school space, water, tax payed services, welfare/WIC, hospital emergency rooms you name it.

Porous borders can be nothing but bad, terrorist, criminals as well as the average illegal immigrant can walz across the border when ever they want. With the blessing of our elected officials.


Most Americans are fed up with almost total lack of enforcement of the immigration laws. They want comprehensive immigration CONTROL -- NOT "reform" (aka "path to citizenship", i.e. amnesty). The more that Democrats keep pandering to Latinos, the more they are going to lose the vote of everyone else, including many in their "base".
Almost total lack of control is notorious. Much better control is possible. Fingerprinting suspects is just one way. But every time even half-way serious efforts are made at better control, the pro-open borders crowd throws up all kinds of obfuscations, including totally out-of-place "concerns" about "impacts" on immigrant "communities".
There is nothing "impractical" about significantly increasing deportations, other than Democrat politicians' congenital need to pander to Latinos, as is clearly shown by the very fact that Secure Communities and E-Verify, even when implemented incompletely and half-heartedly so far, have generated such a great outcry among the pro-open borders crowd.
America has absolutely no need to try to please immigrants, especially illegal immigrants. People vote with their feet. And their feet bring them here in literally overwhelming numbers, far more than to anywhere else in the world.


Once again we have an article about illegal immigration which distorts the truth.

1) Most of the comments made in the article - for example, the issue about ICE surrounding a school - have nothing to do with Secure Communities.

2) The changes in guidance that have been issued do not prevent the fingerprints of all arrestees going to ICE. All that has changed is that if arrestees turn out to be victims or witnesses instead, ICE has discretion to not deport them.

3) The readers of this paper will continue to take the time to post comments so that the majority viewpoint on illegal immigration is heard. We totally reject the stance taken by the LA Times on this issue and will continue to rebut every article you write that misrepresents the truth in the hope that one day you will hire some real journalists.

Spread the word on the ICE Hotline number: 1-866-DHS-2ICE



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