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ICE Forces Illinois' Hand on Secure Communities

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 12, 2011 6:40PM

ilcapitoldome0509.jpg Last week the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) cancelled contracts with all 39 states participating in the Secure Communities Program, including Illinois. Rather than allow individual jurisdictions to make up their own minds as to whether or not they want to participate in the program, ICE is attempting to send the message that participation is not optional. Illinois Statehouse News reports that since 2009, 76 counties in Illinois abstained from participating in the program.

Secure Communities requires local law enforcement to send fingerprints from anyone arrested or otherwise detained to the State Police and the FBI. ICE then checks the immigration status of the offender. ICE deports anyone with illegal status, even if they are not charged with a crime. The program was implemented by the Bush administration to deport any illegal immigrants convicted of felonies or three misdemeanors in an effort to cut down on crime. However, only 38 percent of the 773 people deported under Secure Communities were convicted felons.

Gov. Quinn’s office was not happy with the decision to enforce participation in the fingerprint sharing program. Quinn Spokeswoman Brie Callahan said “Illinois remains concerned that the program can have the opposite effect of its state purpose. Instead of making our communities safer, the program's flawed implementation may divide communities (and) families."