In an arresting and chilling development, ICE announced last Friday that it has determined that it does need permission from states to activate or run its Secure Communities Program. As a result, it has terminated all existing MOAs, or Memorandums of Agreements, that it may have with states, and plans to implement Secure Communities nationwide by 2013. In other words, the government has come out and signaled to states that participation is no longer optional; participation is now mandatory, which makes Memorandums of Agreements no longer necessary. As discussed earlier in our New Jersey Immigration Lawyers Blog, the Secure Communities Program is a tool that promotes information sharing between the FBI and ICE; after individuals are booked into jail and fingerprinted, those fingerprints are sent out to the FBI, which in turn, runs the prints through its expansive database to determine a person's criminal history. Under the Secure Communities Program, the FBI shares that information with the Department of Homeland Security, which runs those same prints through its own immigration database. If a "hit" is generated, ICE will then have the necessary information to initiate enforcement.
The danger of such a program is that it is subject to abuse, and may result in widespread profiling as well as the targeting of aliens who are not serious threats to our society--which would obviously contradict the purported purpose of the Program, which is to identify and nab criminal aliens who pose "significant threats to public safety. " Time will tell if these fears will materialize, or whether the proposed safeguards and "reforms" will help to rein in the potentially nightmarish applications of this program.