ICE ‘Secure Communities’ Program Causes Apprehension 22 October 2010
Dear Atty. Lou,
My brother Joshua was caught driving under the influence of alcohol. He accidentally hit another vehicle and the person inside that vehicle suffered slight injuries. Joshua was given a ticket and a notice to appear for a hearing. He failed to appear for this hearing. On a separate occasion, Joshua was again stopped by the police while driving. This time, Joshua was taken into custody by the police and was fingerprinted.
Joshua was incarcerated for two days and sentenced to probation. After his sentencing, he was taken by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Joshua’s lawful permanent resident status was revoked many years back when he failed to remove conditions of his temporary resident status. He is now incarcerated by ICE and will have a bond hearing for his release next week.
We want to know if Joshua is going to be deported by ICE and whether he will be released. Why did the local police refer Joshua to the ICE? Is this the ‘secure communities’ program of ICE?
Dear Brother Gabby,
It is unfortunate that Joshua took lightly his misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. If one does not appear for a hearing on a criminal case, the judge usually issues a warrant for his arrest. Although the charges against him were eventually dismissed, the fact that he was arrested by a local enforcement agency resulted in his incarceration by ICE.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a program known as the Secure Communities (S-Comm) wherein an individual who is arrested and fingerprinted by a local enforcement agency or by a local police will be referred to ICE. This program is implemented by sending the arrested individual’s fingerprints to ICE even if the charges against him were dismissed.
This S-Comm program had become controversial especially in San Francisco and San Jose, California and Arlington Virginia when these cities requested ICE to get out of the program. The mergers of ICE and local police activities in arresting undocumented immigrants have been the subject of severe attack by immigrant advocates in Arizona and now in may States. This program is being used to allow police to use low-level criminal stops as a precedent step to trigger a deportation/immigration proceedings against an individual without valid status. Considering the merger and collaboration of local police with the ICE, victims of crimes are less likely to report crimes as this S-Comm creates distrust in the law enforcement process.
Joshua’s case is a clear example on how immigration law is enforced through the S-Comm program. In his case, despite the minor charges being dismissed, it created an opportunity for ICE to take him into custody. This started when his fingerprints were sent to ICE as a result of the S-Comm program. Realizing the injustice of this program, some counties are demanding that they be exempt from this program.
In the meantime, Joshua may have to post bail for his release from ICE custody. He should demand a hearing before an immigration judge in order that he may raise relief that may be available to allow him to stay in the US. Joshua should consult with a legal professional to discuss his immigration options.
(Lourdes Santos Tancinco Esq .is a partner at the Tancinco Law Offices, a Professional Law Corp. Her office is located at One Hallidie Plaza, Suite 818, San Francisco CA 94102 and may be reached at 415 397 0808, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The content provided in this column is solely for informational purposes only and do not create a lawyer-client relationship. It should not be relied as legal advice. This column does not disclose any confidential or classified information acquired in her capacity as legal counsel. Consult with an attorney before deciding on a course of action. You may submit questions to email@example.com)