When the Secure Communities program was launched by the federal government in 2008, it was billed as a way to find and deport immigrants with serious criminal convictions. In the three years since then, it has become clear that the program has instead targeted many non-criminals. And recently it was revealed that the program has also managed to ensnare more than 3,000 U.S. citizens as well.
Indeed, in a news conference last week, civil rights activists identified four U.S. citizens from Los Angeles who were mistakenly detained under the program. It's past time for the Obama administration to scrap this problem-plagued enforcement plan.
Under Secure Communities, state and local police share the fingerprints of anyone arrested and jailed with federal immigration officials, who then check them against FBI and immigration databases. That seems simple enough. Yet somehow it isn't working out the way it's supposed to.
The program is seriously flawed. More than half of the 148,841 immigrants removed as of October have either no criminal convictions or minor ones, despite the government's stated goal of targeting serious criminals. A second problem is that the program doesn't allow states and localities to opt out, even though they were told they would be able to when they were first enlisted to sign up.