A California congresswoman Friday called for an investigation into the actions of federal immigration officials, saying they lied about whether counties and states had the right to opt out of a controversial nationwide enforcement program that screens for illegal immigrants in local jails.
“It is inescapable that the [Department of Homeland Security] was not honest with the local governments or with me” about whether local jurisdictions must participate, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “You can’t have a government department essentially lying to local government and to members of Congress. This is not OK.”
The so-called “Secure Communities” program, launched in 2008, was promoted to local and state leaders as a way to focus enforcement efforts on “serious convicted criminals.” But the program, which uses fingerprint data, has come under fire because it has ensnared a high proportion of immigrants who were arrested but never charged with a crime or who have been charged with minor infractions.
Critics say it discourages illegal immigrants from reporting crimes and opens the door to racial profiling; somehow we wish that those two words were never uttered in the same sentence again. It is very much like political correctness insofar as one is trying to identify something, yet, is never quite coming up with the right words.
A number of local jurisdictions – Including Santa Clara and San Francisco counties – have sought to opt out of the program or asked that their fingerprint data not be sent to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I don’t need to explain just how stupid this request is – of course we hope that whatever is done with those finger prints will be the proper issue.
Then again one could argue that this is a part of immigration reform and like it or not, take it or leave it. We don’t have any problems saying that insofar as one, we believe that all illegal’s will end up being printed anyway, albeit by the Uniformed Services, job applicants, and university students. And two, you will see that it is a time saving measure.
Federal officials initially told them they could do so, an assertion repeated by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Assistant Atty. Gen. Ronald Weich in September letters to Lofgren.
But internal correspondence recently released to immigrant and civil rights groups in response to Freedom of Information Act litigation reveals that ICE officials had long known that the program was not voluntary.
A month after Lofgren received the letters; Napolitano held a news conference to clarify that local officials had no say in the program.
Lofgren, whose legal staff spent a week reviewing the internal documents, said she will seek a probe of whether Napolitano or ICE Director John Morton were aware of the strategy.
A Department of Homeland Security official said in a statement that “Secure Communities is not voluntary and never has been. Unfortunately, this was not communicated as clearly as it should have been to state and local jurisdictions by ICE when the program began. Thanks to outreach with local jurisdictions and members of Congress, we have since made the parameters of the program clear to all stakeholders involved.”
Lofgren also questioned the legal authority for implementing the program, which by 2013 will effectively involve all local jails in immigration enforcement. The rollout began in 2008 and 1,211 jurisdictions in 41 states now participate. States have always shared local fingerprint data with the FBI, which conducts criminal background checks.
ICE also has signed “memorandums of agreement” with states that currently forward local fingerprint data to the FBI. Homeland Security officials now say those agreements are merely educational and that fingerprints from all jails will be forwarded by the FBI to ICE by 2013. The end of this story is that America is not ready for amnesty or any other way to just let 12 to 20 million people to take up residence.
As clear as day there you have it – federal programs supposedly to operate with local programs that get slaughtered at the will of some federal diplomat. I’d suggest forgetting what lies behind us and strive on toward the future, especially concerning who you vote for.