The federal program Secure Communities ended up leaving many individuals and communities feeling far from secure, but new changes are expected to bring fairness and balance.
This program was founded in 2008 and it aimed at targeting and deporting US immigrants identified as dangerous criminals. Under the program, fingerprints of anyone arrested were sent to federal authorities to be checked for prior criminal records or deportation orders. As a result, thousands of illegal US immigrants were deported either because of misdemeanor convictions or without criminal record.
According to the Los Angeles Times, before the guidelines were changed last month, more than half of those have been marked for deportation had no criminal record or only minor misdemeanors, and only 30 percent were the serious offenders the program was intended to target.
Following the increasing angry protests of several US states, legislators, police departments and municipalities and immigrant groups, on June 17, John Morton, head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unveiled substantive changes in the program.
Geoffrey A. Hoffman, director of the University of Houston’s immigration clinic, gave his opinion that he praised the changes for showing “an effort by the government at the operational level to make nuanced decisions about persons in removal proceedings… Not everyone who is caught up in the system of detention and deportation is a threat to our country.”
In addition, in Morton’s change memorandum, he gave agents several factors to consider. These included as follows:
How long has a person lived in the US?
Did he participate in military service, particularly in combat?
What’s his education in the US? Did he graduate high school or college?
What about his US community ties and contributions?
Does he have relation to a US citizen or permanent resident?
Or is he an asylum seeker or a victim of domestic violence?
Currently, there have been 11 million or so undocumented immigrants living in the United States and many of them contributing members of the US society.
19 July 2011
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Changes to US Immigration Deportation Guidelines
Posted on July 20, 2011