The Obama Administration wants to expand a Bush Administration initiative aimed at finding and deporting criminal illegal aliens. The initiative, known as Secure Communities, began as a pilot program in October, 2008, linking jails in 48 counties to federal immigration databases. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the program will expand to all nearly all local jails by the end of 2012.
David Venturella, the direct of the Secure Communities program at ICE, said that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made it "very clear" that deporting criminal illegal aliens is a top priority. Former ICE head Julie Myers Wood said the expansion of the program "presents an historic opportunity to transform immigration enforcement."
However, even those who support the initiative are concerned that the Obama Administration will halt other forms of immigration enforcement. Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said, "If the Obama administration abandons immigration enforcement in all but the most serious criminal cases, then they will create a de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants and will encourage even more illegal immigration."
Pro-illegal groups are also concerned by the program's expansion. Amnesty International is concerned that the program could lead to the "criminalization" of illegal immigration and Tom Barry, an analyst for the Center for International Policy, worries that "[m]any, many legal immigrants are going to be pulled into this net even for minor violations that they're booked for -- traffic violations, drunk driving, whatever -- and after they've lived here 10 or 20 years, they're going to be deported."
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Updated: Tue, May 19th 2009 @ 8:03pm EDT