One of the big points of contention in the ongoing debate over immigration reform is the role of crime. Some argue undocumented or illegal aliens in the US are responsible for high crime rates in many communities.

Just as US citizens who commit crimes are rounded up and punished, those in the US without permission who commit crimes should be caught and punished, too.

Secure Communities

Secure Communities is a program started in 2008 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The program is simple. When local police officers arrest someone - anyone - they send his fingerprints to the FBI. The FBI confirms the person's identity and runs a background check for any past criminal record.

Under Secure Communities, there's a new step. The FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to ICE. Agents there run the fingerprints against those in ICE's system. If his fingerprints come up, ICE investigates to see if he should be deported or removed from the US. For example, ICE may identify someone as:

  • Being in the country illegally
  • Having an expired visa
  • Having a green card that my be revoked because of his criminal activity

In any of these cases, the person arrested may be deported.

Locals Needed

As you can see, to work properly, the program needs help from local police departments. As of June 2010, Secure Communities operates in hundreds of cities in over 20 states. The result: ICE has removed from the US more than 20,000 convicted criminals.

Some cities don't want to participate, though. Sanctuary cities and other cities and counties think the program harms the relationships between immigrants and law enforcement personnel. San Francisco relied on statements from ICE that participation in Secure Communities is voluntary. Cities could opt out by sending ICE a formal request and getting permission from state and federal officials.

These and other cities found out in October 2010 that they can't opt out. In fact, the opt out instructions are no longer on ICE's web site.

The fight isn't over yet. Officials in many cities and local communities across the US say they will continue to push to opt out of the program.

What You Can Do

Pick up the phone, a pen, or sit down at your computer and contact your state and local lawmakers, as well as your representatives and senators in Washington. Let them know how you feel about the program and whether or not you think your local police departments should have to participate in it.

If you're arrested for a crime and you're in the US illegally, your options may be limited. If ICE discovers your immigration status, deportation proceedings may start immediately. Or, ICE may opt to delay deportation under your criminal trial - and sentence, if convicted - is over. It's a good idea to contact a lawyer to help you fight the deportation.

Your other alternative is to leave the leave the US voluntarily. If you admit to ICE that you're in the US without permission and agree to leave the country, you may be able to avoid criminal prosecution and being held or detained while waiting for the deportation process. Of course, the more serious the crime the less likely it is ICE will let someone go before standing trial for the crime.  

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can ICE begin deporting someone if he's still in custody of the local police?
  • Can someone get into legal trouble for hiding an undocumented immigrant in his home even if he isn't wanted for or suspected of committing a crime?
  • Is there any way to stop the deportation process?

One of the big points of contention in the ongoing debate over immigration reform is the role of crime. Some argue undocumented or illegal aliens in the US are responsible for high crime rates in many communities.

Just as US citizens who commit crimes are rounded up and punished, those in the US without permission who commit crimes should be caught and punished, too.

Secure Communities

Secure Communities is a program started in 2008 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The program is simple. When local police officers arrest someone - anyone - they send his fingerprints to the FBI. The FBI confirms the person's identity and runs a background check for any past criminal record.

Under Secure Communities, there's a new step. The FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to ICE. Agents there run the fingerprints against those in ICE's system. If his fingerprints come up, ICE investigates to see if he should be deported or removed from the US. For example, ICE may identify someone as:

  • Being in the country illegally
  • Having an expired visa
  • Having a green card that my be revoked because of his criminal activity

In any of these cases, the person arrested may be deported.

Locals Needed

As you can see, to work properly, the program needs help from local police departments. As of June 2010, Secure Communities operates in hundreds of cities in over 20 states. The result: ICE has removed from the US more than 20,000 convicted criminals.

Some cities don't want to participate, though. Sanctuary cities and other cities and counties think the program harms the relationships between immigrants and law enforcement personnel. San Francisco relied on statements from ICE that participation in Secure Communities is voluntary. Cities could opt out by sending ICE a formal request and getting permission from state and federal officials.

These and other cities found out in October 2010 that they can't opt out. In fact, the opt out instructions are no longer on ICE's web site.

The fight isn't over yet. Officials in many cities and local communities across the US say they will continue to push to opt out of the program.

What You Can Do

Pick up the phone, a pen, or sit down at your computer and contact your state and local lawmakers, as well as your representatives and senators in Washington. Let them know how you feel about the program and whether or not you think your local police departments should have to participate in it.

If you're arrested for a crime and you're in the US illegally, your options may be limited. If ICE discovers your immigration status, deportation proceedings may start immediately. Or, ICE may opt to delay deportation under your criminal trial - and sentence, if convicted - is over. It's a good idea to contact a lawyer to help you fight the deportation.

Your other alternative is to leave the leave the US voluntarily. If you admit to ICE that you're in the US without permission and agree to leave the country, you may be able to avoid criminal prosecution and being held or detained while waiting for the deportation process. Of course, the more serious the crime the less likely it is ICE will let someone go before standing trial for the crime.  

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can ICE begin deporting someone if he's still in custody of the local police?
  • Can someone get into legal trouble for hiding an undocumented immigrant in his home even if he isn't wanted for or suspected of committing a crime?
  • Is there any way to stop the deportation process?

Tagged as: Immigration, Deportation, ice police, local police