Miami, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 4, 2012 – At one time states and municipalities could opt out of this program. Suddenly, it became mandatory, though, and the backlash started hitting the fan.
“States that opted out of the Secure Communities program are getting whiplash watching the political shenanigans over this program,” remarked Larry S. Rifkin, managing partner at Rikfin & Fox-Isicoff, an immigration law firm with Miami immigration lawyers and Orlando immigration lawyers. “On one hand, the government said states and municipalities could ‘opt out.’ Then in October 2011, the Department of Homeland Security changed its tune, and said the program was mandatory and the opt out clause was ditched.”
The sudden move to make the program mandatory has caused confusion amongst law enforcement, politicians, immigration attorneys, reform advocates and government officials. They want to know what the right stance is. Prior to Homeland Security reversing its stance, municipalities and states could opt out from the program that is aimed at identifying immigrants to be deported after they have been arrested.
The program also allows the FBI to share their fingerprint and other databases of those arrested by local or state law enforcement, which may then be used to check to see if there are any immigration violations. “Here is where things get even more confusing,” Rifkin pointed out. “Just recently a U.S. District Court judge ordered the government to hand over a crucial memo by the 1st of November, a memo that apparently has at least 18 versions, to civil rights groups and immigration advocates. It was requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The groups want to look at the memo for evidence as to why Homeland Security changed its mind.”
The rumor mill has it that the memo in question may explain why the program was optional at the beginning of 2010, but then became mandatory at the end of the year. Many feel that the Secure Communities Program has just driven immigrants even further underground, putting them in the frame of mind where they will not report crime because they do not want to be deported, nor do they want Homeland Security looking at them and deporting them.
This seemingly sudden reversal has lit a fire under several high ranking politicians who have been openly critical of the program from its inception. The flip-flopping has made no friends, particularly since there were significant numbers of non-criminal immigrants being picked up and deported. “In fact, figures were showing that roughly 20 percent deported under the program in Illinois alone had never been convicted of a crime,” outlined Rifkin.
Once again, it appears the Department of Homeland Security has stepped into a big mess. The question then becomes just what are they going to do about it, if anything?
Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, P.A.
1110 Brickell Avenue
Miami, Florida 33131
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