Researchers at the University of California-Irvine recently added another jurisdiction to the list where the “Secure Communities” program is not meeting DHS’s stated priorities: Los Angeles County. Edgar Aguilasocho, David Rodwin, and Sameer Ashar, Misplaced Priorities: The Failure of Secure Communities in Los Angeles County (Jan. 2012). Aguilasocho, Rodwin, and Ashar report that DHS’s signature program is ensnaring many individuals without a criminal conviction, people with convictions for minor crimes, and individuals with old convictions who pose no threat to the community. Misplaced Priorities at 9.
According to their analysis of data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, “between October 1, 2008, and June 21, 2010, ICE issued 14,771 detainer requests in Los Angeles Country. Of these, only a small number were associated with any serious criminal charge.” Misplaced Priorities at 9.
Most glaringly, the trio, affiliated with UCI Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, claim that S-Comm does not sort out individuals who have not been convicted of an offense. Instead, “Los Angeles County Secure Communities continues to identify crime victims and residents never convicted of any crime, leading to their detention and deportation.” Misplaced Priorities at 10.
This, they add, “appears to represent ICE’s assumption that any contact immigrants have with law enforcement is evidence that they are a threat to the community….The program was designed to bring into ICE custody all those who have contact with law enforcement regardless of the actual threat they may pose. This is an irreparable flaw in the program that cannot be corrected with remedies created for individual detainees….” Misplaced Priorities at 17.