Cancellation of Secure Communities Gives Some Immigrants A New Chance

Among the directives advanced by President Obama’s executive order issued in November of last year was the termination of the Secure Communities program. When hatched in 2008 during the previous administration, Secure Communities connected local and state police departments across the country with federal immigration enforcement. As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents became aware that certain undocumented immigrants were charged with any crimes, misdemeanors or felonies, ICE would issue a detainer to the local law enforcement authority. The purpose of these ICE detainers was to instruct the particular jurisdiction to hold, or incarcerate, the immigrant until the federal immigration authorities could pick that individual up and deport them back to the home country.

The Obama administration, in an effort to prove how aggressive it could be regarding immigration enforcement expanded the program considerably. Over half of the 2.3 million immigrants deported since President Obama took office were done so as part of Secure Communities. Now the President has cancelled the program and redirected Homeland Security to focus on deporting terrorists, gang members and felons who pose security risks.

At the same time many local jurisdictions have stopped honoring detainers either because courts ordered them to do so or on their own initiative.  By the end of last year, 270 jurisdictions were refusing to honor detainers, and during 2014 local police departments declined to respond to 10,182 of the orders, Homeland Security officials reported. As part of his final actions as governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, ordered the police to stop complying with any immigration detainers issued by ICE.

At this juncture, several immigrants charged with petty offenses still fear that they are subject to deportation based upon orders that were already issued during the period in which Secure Communities remained in effect. Many may have the opportunity to obtain a deferral from deportation but it is still unclear how the President’s executive action will impact some of those individuals embroiled by the now-cancelled program.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to deportations and the current status of federal programs which effectuate such actions.