Insecure Communities

Insecure Communities

A man in Chicago just became the first person to sue the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for classifying him as “deportable” when they reviewed his fingerprints against federal databases under the Secure Communities program.

The problem is that the man in question, James Makowski, has been a U.S. citizen since he was 1 year old, when he was adopted by Americans and naturalized. The fact that his information in the federal database had not been updated in all these years is another reason to question the use of this program. As we have seen, this program not only potentially criminalizes all Latinos and people from other non-majority ethnic groups, but also U.S. citizens. Makowski is not the first citizen to fall victim to Secure Communities (S-Comm), but he is the first one who filed a lawsuit.

The damage S-Comm has caused, however, goes way beyond a temporary mistake against a citizen. We have said it more than once: while the federal authorities claim that the program helps public safety by prioritizing the deportation of criminals, the program’s negative balance grows with every analysis or serious observation of its results. The majority of those who have been deported until now under S-Comm are not criminals convicted of serious crimes, and the program negatively affects the relationship between local law enforcement agencies and immigrant communities. Also, in some cases S-Comm has even been used as a simple program to identify undocumented immigrants, since some deportees were not stopped because they were suspected of a crime but just for paperwork verification during regular vehicle checkpoints.

We reiterate our complete support of the TRUST Act, which in California seeks to separate police work as much as possible from the federal responsibility of enforcing immigration laws. Otherwise, the negative effects of S-Comm will increase throughout our communities.