2013 Budget and the Nationalization of Secure Communities

300px-federal_protective_service_tahoe The newly released Department of Homeland Security 2013 budget includes overall cuts to the agency with the exception that it secures funding for the controversial immigration enforcement program Secure Communities. The budget for 2013 shows that ICE “will begin by discontinuing the least productive 287(g) task force agreements in those jurisdictions where Secure Communities is already in place and will also suspend consideration of any requests for new 287(g) task forces.” Therefore, the less effective 287(g) program that required local law enforcement agencies to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with ICE will be replaced by the Secure Communities program which places immigration enforcement authority in the hands of local law enforcement in spite of the fact that experience shows that this “creates the conditions for racial profiling.” Unfortunately, Florida is one of the few states in the country to have completely implemented Secure communities, with all of its 67 jurisdictions currently using the fingerprint-sharing program that allows local law enforcement officials to compare the fingerprints of a detainee with federal databases, red-flagging individuals for detention and deportation on the basis of a history of criminal violations. There is a lot of controversy that surrounds the Secure Communities program, most of it stemming from the fact that not enough safety measures have been put in place to prevent it from wrongly targeting undocumented immigrants who have committed no actual crime, with many being detained and deported without a rightful cause. Because Secure Communities has malfunctioned many times, separating families and forcing them to fend for themselves and struggle to make ends meet, immigration activists have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to end the program. But instead of responding to this call with at least a demonstration of good faith by increasing funding to find measures for improving the faulty program, the budget is merely concerned with including funding to expand the program nationwide by 2013. It is a tragedy that instead of focusing funds to fix Secure Communities, the White House continues to expand this program that has so many flaws while the debate about immigration reform continues to sour with little, if any, significant progress being made on the national level.

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