Secure Communities Program Comes To Massachusetts

Previously in this blog, I’ve written about Secure Communities, the information-sharing program developed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Secure Communities allows local police and FBI personnel to share fingerprint and other identifying information on on someone who is arrested with federal immigration officials. For many years, it has been standard practice for local police to routinely forward fingerprints of people who they have arrested to the FBI for routine criminal background checks. The major gap with that procedure? Federal immigration officials were never given that information; they were always out of the loop. The result: Many illegal immigrants who had committed numerous crimes, including violent crimes, remained here illegally. Through the Secure Communities program, the FBI will now share those fingerprints with immigration officials to identify illegal immigrants for deportation, especially violent criminals and repeat offenders.

In my prior post on this subject, I generally supported Secure Communities, albeit with some concerns about the potential for non-violent immigrants to become subject to deportation in the effort to identify illegal immigrants who are also violent criminals. On the whole, I supported this program, with some cautionary comments.

At the time that ICE first indicated its intention to bring the program to Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick and other more liberal-leaning politicians in Masachusetts, spoke out strongly against the program, mostly citing over-dramatized, worst-case scenarios of non-violent immigrants being deported left and right, and of “racial profiling” run amok. I found most of that over-the-top catastrophizing to be needless drama. The facts are that the number of illegal immigrangts in our midst who are either violent criminals, or who flagrantly flout the law without hesitation, is very high. Like it or not, that is true. Recent examples of this fact abound: Just last week, a florist on Cape Cod was killed after allegedly being struck by an illegal immigrant who officials said had overstayed her visa. Last Friday, an illegal Guatemalan immigrant was arrested after he allegedly tried to run down a State Police trooper – while driving drunk. In a well-known case last August, someone from Milford was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant, who was also charged with drunk driving. These examples don’t even begin to touch drug dealing.

Something both effective and reasonable has to be done about this, and the Secure Communties Program meets both of those objectives. I find the claims of “racial profiling” being waged by most immigrant rights groups to be without merit, and I find the present iteration of the Secure Communities Program to be necessary, balanced, and laudable.

Some of my colleagues in the criminal defense bar (as well as non-attorneys,) would find my position quite surprising. My response: Don’t be so surprised. While, as a Norfolk County Massachusetts criminal defense attorney I devote myself to an aggressive defense of my clients who are accused of crimes such as Massachusetts OUI, Massachusetts drug crimes, Massachusetts domestic violence, or Massachusetts assault and battery, I also believe in the rule of law, and in order. That means locating and if necessary deporting illegal immigrants who have flouted our laws and/or who commit violent crimes. I don’t want the people I care about to become a victim of violent crime. Neither should critics of this program.

So my message to them: Stop with the protesting and catastrophizing, and get with the program.