The Community Shield Program, or “Operation Community Shield”, is a joint law enforcement / immigration effort that targets illegal aliens in association with street gangs and crime.  It provides law enforcement broad powers to identify, detain, and remove (deport) aliens who are in the U.S. illegally and who have been found to be associated with criminal gang activity.  It was adopted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division in 2005. 

What Does the Community Shield Program Accomplish?

The Operation Community Shield initiative includes provisions that allow local governments to enforce strict measures, including:

  • Developing comprehensive approaches for conducting criminal investigation of street gangs, drug-related activities, and illegal alien involvement in such conduct
  • Identifying violent street gangs and their members, partners, and associates, as well as their connection to international groups
  • Interfering with, disrupting, and deterring criminal gang conduct by tracing/seizing weapons, cash, contraband and other assets used in or resulting from criminal conduct
  • Aggressively pursuing prosecution of alien gang members in the U.S., and facilitating their removal from the country
  • Gathering intelligence for the future prevention of criminal activities
  • Raising community awareness of violent street gang activity

Thus, under the Shield initiative, state and local governments have increased power to create heightened enforcement measures for preventing criminal gang activity committed by foreign aliens.  Each municipality may take different measures depending on the needs of the community.

What if I or a Loved One Has Been Wrongfully Detained Due to the Shield Program?

A main criticism of Operation Community Shield is that it has led to the wrongful detention of innocent aliens due to issues like racial profiling and stereotyping.  Wrongful detention is a serious legal issue, and requires the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. 

If you or someone you know has been wrongfully detained under the Shield program, you may have several legal options in terms of remedies.  It may be possible to contest the detention, or you may file for an appeal of any decisions.  This needs to be done fairly quickly, since most detentions under the Shield program are also aimed at immediately removing the defending from the country. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Issues Involving the Shield Program?

A lawyer can assist you if you have any legal issues related to the Community Shield Program.  Your lawyer will be able to inform you of your rights, and can represent you if you are being summoned for an appearance in a criminal or immigration court.  Immigration laws and policies can vary by jurisdiction; therefore, you should inquire with an immigration lawyer if you have any concerns or questions regarding the laws in your region.