Deportation Program May Raise Crime: Report

Federal panel says fingerprint-sharing system often backfires
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2011 9:14 AM CDT
Federal Panel Criticizes Secure Communities Deportation Program
Immigrants, from left, Adam Espinoza, Blanca Perez, and Isaura Garcia listen to testimony by other immigrants calling for the end to the Secure Communities program Aug. 15 in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A federal panel reviewing a contentious US deportation program found that it hurt community policing, potentially leading to “greater levels of crime.” The stated goal of the Secure Communities program, which provides immigration officials with police-obtained fingerprints, was to deport serious criminals. But the program has cracked down on many immigrants who aren’t criminals or have committed only minor crimes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Controversy prompted the federal review.

"If residents do not trust their local police, they are less willing to step forward as witnesses to or victims of crime,” the report warns. The panel calls on the program to ensure it primarily targets those “who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety”—not people guilty of traffic offenses. But the panel’s review has sparked criticism of its own; many of the panel’s members, including union leaders and a former police chief, resigned ahead of the report’s release. “I don't think it went far enough,” said the former head of Sacramento police. (Read more deportation stories.)

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