Immigration rights groups will take their fight against the Secure Communities program to President Barack Obama’s doorstep. The groups are planning protests in six cities, including one outside the president’s national campaign headquarters in Chicago, Fox News
The Secure Communities program was started under President George W. Bush’s administration. The program screens the fingerprints of those arrested with immigration officials, who then can deport those who are in the country illegally. Supporters of the program say it is removing dangerous criminal illegal immigrants from the country while critics claim it is ensnaring people on minor offenses.
“From the beginning, [Secure Communities] has been shrouded in lies and deception,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told Fox. “And it is increasingly clear that its stated aim of targeting serious criminals was just a smokescreen for achieving record numbers of deportations for an enforcement-only approach.”
The Department of Homeland Security program also has criticism from local leaders and police who say it compromises safety by making immigrants afraid to approach police, either as victims or witnesses to crimes. The governors of Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts said they wanted to withdraw from the program, according to Fox.
Launched in 2008 in just 14 jurisdictions, the program now is in more than 1,300 locations.
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