By Luke Vargas
In an apparent effort to unearth a counter narrative to President Obama’s immigration stance, in which elevated deportation levels have been paired with procedural reforms for younger immigrants, the House Judiciary Committee has published a new report citing failures stemming from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s “Secure Communities” program.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) report “found that about 17% of [a total of 159,286] illegal and criminal immigrants, or 26,412, were rearrested on criminal charges” after being first identified by authorities.
The Secure Communities program was launched as a pilot in 14 communities during the Bush administration, and allows criminal fingerprints to be shared with immigration officials nationwide. President Obama chose to widen the initiative to 1,210 jurisdictions in 2011, and has pledged to expand it to 3,141 jurisdictions by 2013.
On August 18, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security announced a revision of the program that would shift focus away from “low-priority individuals,” such as young people and those deemed to present no criminal or national security risk.
“Rather than protect the American people he was elected to serve, President Obama has imposed a policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to be released into our communities,” Smith said of the White House’s evolving immigration stance. “President Obama continues to further his anti-enforcement agenda while innocent Americans suffer the consequences.”
Although the Obama administration has cited ICE statistics showing a record 396,906 deportations during fiscal year 2011, Smith has repeatedly criticized those figures, saying the White House “conjures up” immigration numbers “to achieve its so-called historic record.”
The CRS report can be viewed in PDF form here.