Deportation and the Secure Communities Fingerprint Program

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What is the Secure Communities Fingerprint Program?

The Secure Communities Program is a program instituted by the Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency (ICE) in 2007. It is aimed at reducing the number of aliens who have been convicted of a crime in any given area. It does this by allowing local police authorities to run a fingerprint scan on any individual who has been arrested and is suspected to be in the country illegally.
 
Once a person is arrested and detained, the police will run a fingerprint scan on the suspect, which links to an immigration database. The database will reveal information such as the person’s citizenship, whether they have had any previous contact with ICE officials, and whether they have an outstanding criminal record. If the person has a criminal record and is found to be in the country illegally, they become a candidate for immediate deportation.  
 
The Secure Communities Program allows police officers to receive federal training in deportation and removal measures. They are then authorized to make arrangements for the person’s deportation as necessary.

For what reasons can a person be deported under the Secure Communities Program?

The Secure Communities Program creates three different levels for classifying aliens with criminal records, with Level 1 covering the most serious crimes, and Levels 2 and 3 covering less serious crimes. The Program makes it a priority to deport aliens who are classified under Level 1.
 
Level 1 crimes are the most serious and include such crimes as:
 
·        Felony charges and persons with records of multiple felonies
·        Violent crimes including homicides
·        Serious drug offense charges such as trafficking or possession with intent to distribute
·        Sexual assault crimes
·        Crimes involving national security
 
Level 2 crimes involve less serious offenses such as property crimes and minor drug offenses. Level 3 crimes usually involve misdemeanors.
 
The ICE will usually first deport persons who are classified under Level 1. However, a person can be deported for Level 2 and Level 3 offenses as well. This drastically increases the chances of removal or deportation for illegal aliens who have a criminal a record. 

What states currently operate the Secure Communities Program?

As of 2007, at least 26 states have implemented the Secure Communities Program, though it may not be available in all jurisdictions for each state. You may wish to double check with your local authorities or police to determine whether your area has adopted the program. 
 
The Secure Communities Program is quickly becoming a nationwide phenomenon as additional jurisdictions continue to add the program to their security measures. A person will not be subject to the fingerprint scanning process unless they are being detained on suspicion of committing a crime. 
 
However, in some occasions the fingerprint system has been known to mistakenly flag individuals who are actually in the country legally. Therefore you may wish to consult with a lawyer beforehand. This will help you to be prepared in the event that a citizenship issue does arise.   

Do I need a lawyer for issues with the Secure Communities Program?

Any type of issue involving immigration or deportation is serious and requires the attention of an attorney. Even if you are in the country legally, you may wish to contact an immigration attorney, especially if you have a criminal record. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you stay informed when dealing with citizenship issues. 

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Last Modified: 05-02-2012 02:47 PM PDT

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