U.S. gov't claims success of controversial Secure Communities program (3)

16:31, September 03, 2010      

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Immigration and civil rights groups also complained that many non-criminal aliens have been deported. Travis County, Texas, so far has deported a higher percentage of non-criminals than any county in the federal government's new Secure Communities project. The controversial program, launched in 2008, automatically checks fingerprint records of jail and prison inmates to see whether they're in the United States illegally.

According to an analysis of federal data collected by a coalition of immigration advocacy groups, in Travis County, 82 percent of 724 total deportations under the Secure Communities program were of non-criminals. The Travis County data covers June 2009, when the county joined the program, through April 2010.

"This indicates police officers are picking up people on pretext, the criminal charges are getting dropped or dismissed, and they're getting shuttled into deportation," Bridget Kessler, clinical teaching fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, told reporters.

The clinic, along with the National Day Laborer Organization Network and the Center for Constitutional rights, filed lawsuit to obtain the data from the federal government.

Nationwide, an average of 26 percent of all Secure Communities deportations were of non-criminals, the groups' analysis of 2008-10 data shows. County by county data released by the federal government stretched from November 2008 through April 2010.

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