LATINO VOICES
09/11/2013 11:17 am ET

Secure Communities Criticized For Deporting Non-Criminals In California

AP

California State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) praised the Trust Act Tuesday, saying that the federal program known as Secure Communities has led to the deportation of people without criminal offenses.

De Leon criticized the federal program implemented across the country over the course of the Obama administration in comments to the press following the passage of the Trust Act through the California Assembly. The law would restrict police from holding deportable immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities, unless the suspect had been charged or convicted of a serious crime.

De Leon said 70 percent of those deported under Secure Communities since Obama took office don’t have serious criminal offenses on their records, according to Mexican newswire Notimex.

“Innocent people have been deported,” de Leon said in comments to the press, according to the Associated Press. He said the program undermined trust between Latino communities and the police.

Neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement nor de Leon’s office immediately returned calls to verify the statistic, but immigration authorities have long faced similar criticism. S-Comm, as its opponents refer to the program, aims to deport a higher proportion of hardened criminals by allowing ICE to share fingerprint data with local law enforcement to identify undocumented immigrants. ICE places the number of convicted criminals deported last fiscal year at 225,390, or 55 percent of the total -- the highest in the agency’s history.

But a study by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of nearly 1 million immigration holds requested by ICE from 2008 to 2012 found that only 22.6 percent had criminal records. Of them, only 8.6 percent faced charges that would qualify as Level 1 offenses.

For the purposes of Secure Communities, ICE defines Level 1 offenses as major drug crimes, national security crimes and violent crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping.

Some 100,000 migrants have been deported from California since President Obama took office, according to Notimex.

PHOTO GALLERIES
5 Reasons To Release Immigrant Detainees

CONVERSATIONS