Blog Archive

Saturday, October 2, 2010

More Deportations?

By Marci Izard
September 29, 2010

HOUSTON - When people get arrested, their fingerprints used to only be checked against the FBI's criminal history records.

But now, the federally-mandated Secure Communities program also checks fingerprints against immigration records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

If matches are found, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is alerted and that person could be deported.

"This allows the law enforcement agency and ICE the opportunity to identify aliens who have been identified for criminal activity" says Kenneth Landgrebe, Field Office Director for ICE.

Many jails across the country and in Texas have already started following the program.

ICE officials said the program has already led to more than 41,000 deportations. In Harris County, where it's been in effect since 2008, more than 8,000 illegal immigrants have been removed.

While many people agree the program is necessary, opponents like attorney Randall Kallinen worry about abuses of the system and the fear the program may negatively affect hard-working, law-abiding immigrants.

"Everybody in this country is innocent until proven guilty and to take someone's immigration status and figure that into someone's custody is improper because that takes something that is not related to guilt or innocence and it subjects someone to additional scrutiny," Kallinen said.

Kallinen said when the economy is sluggish, immigration becomes an especially contentious topic.

The Barack Obama administration wants Secure Communities to be enforced nationwide by 2013. Texas is the first state to have it implemented statewide.,0,2817375.story