Facing Criticism, ICE Announces Reforms To Its Secure Communities Program
June 17, 2011

Photo Courtesy of ICE
An ICE officer stands guard while deportees board a plane headed to their home country.

SAN DIEGO -- Across the country, a wide majority of counties are signed on to the Secure Communities program, which relies on fingerprint data provided by local and state law enforcement after suspects are booked and jailed.

The program has been in existence for three years. But since 2010, ICE has been criticized for deporting a large number of non-criminal immigrants -- almost 30 percent of a total of 77,000 deportees.

After speaking to immigration attorneys at the American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting in San Diego, ICE director, John Morton, announced reforms.

Reforms to Secure Communities include giving ICE attorneys more power than arresting officers in deciding whether an immigrant should be deported or not.

Starting immediately, ICE will establish a new detainer form which limits the detention of undocumented immigrants without charges to 48 hours. The agency will also help train law enforcement around the country on civil liberties issues.

"We do prioritize with a heavy focus on serious offenders first," Morton told reporters. "The program is not restricted to just those who are serious offenders, but we do have a prioritization and we're trying to constantly work on refining it."