Misplaced Priorities: The Failure of Secure Communities in Los Angeles County
23 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2012 Last revised: 15 Jul 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2012
This white paper analyzes the contrast between the federal government’s representation of Secure Communities and the reality of the program’s implementation in Los Angeles County through interviews with individual immigrant detainees and available aggregate data. The interviews and data suggest that ICE’s failure to adhere to its own stated priorities is a feature rather than a reparable flaw of the program. The program has been constructed and implemented on the assumption that if an individual has any contact with law enforcement - even if that contact stems from a traffic offense - that individual represents a threat to the community. ICE uses its stated criminal priorities as part of a rhetorical strategy to assuage the concerns of states and localities. In operation, however, ICE casts a wide net and offers little relief to worthy candidates for prosecutorial discretion; the vast majority of those deported through Secure Communities have merely had contact with local law enforcement and have not committed serious crimes.
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