The Secure Communities program was started in 2008 by the Bush Administration and enables local law enforcement to check the fingerprints of a person in custody against the immigration fingerprint database maintained by DHS in order to identify those who are in the United States illegally. The program is currently used in 48 localities across America including Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Boston and Phoenix, and will expand to be nationwide by 2012. Local authorities incarcerate nearly twice as many illegal immigrants as state and federal authorities but, prior to the launch of the program, had no way to easily determine an individual’s immigration status.
While there is bi-partisan agreement that something needs to be done about illegal immigration in the United States, there is no general consensus as to what should be part of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). However, both sides agree that criminal aliens threaten the security of the US and should be identified for rapid deportation. The Obama administration is picking up where Bush left off in an effort to expand the program and obtain more funding. It is estimated that, once fully operational, the Secure Communities program will help identify 1.4 criminal aliens for deportation per year, a ten-fold increase over the number currently deported (approx 100,000).
It is anticipated that the program will create a swell of deportations, necessitating an increase in the number of immigration judges (IJ), prosecutors, and detention personnel.