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La Opinión Calls ICE 'Absurd' for Making S-Comm Mandatory

Posted: Jan 10, 2012

Editor's Note: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) anounced that the option to exit the controversial Secure Communities program will be "eliminated" and the program will become mandatory for 2013. Under the program, local police are required to share the fingerprints of all arrestees with federal immigration authorities.

Since it went into effect in 2008, the program has been criticized for leading to the deportation of many undocumented immigrants with
no criminal record -- despite the program's claims to focus on violent criminals. ICE has also been criticized for giving conflicting information about whether communities could opt out of the program. Editors of La Opinión write that the American teen who was mistakenly deported to Colombia is the latest example of the program's incompetence.

The sheer incompetence demonstrated by enforcing Secure Communities knows no bounds. What more could be imagined to illustrate the terrible problems with the program? The most recent example is the case of a 15 year-old girl, Jakadrien Turner, who tricked agents of Immigration and Border Control so successfully that she was deported to Colombia.

The young girl, who ran away from her Dallas home, had been arrested for shoplifting. She didn’t speak a word of Spanish, gave a false name to authorities, and told them she was Colombian.

According to Dallas police, they took the girl's fingerprints and put all the information in the Secure Communities database. It still isn’t clear how they could confuse a young African-American girl who speaks no Spanish with a 21 year-old Colombian criminal. Yet, two months later she was deported to Colombia. This week, Jakadrien was returned to her Texas home.

One assumes that Secure Communities has the goal of protecting society from undocumented criminals. That protection is dubious when authorities can, literally, be fooled by a teenager, such as just happened.

This case shows that the cooperation between local police officials and immigration – which is at the core of Secure Communities – leads to the most absurd mistakes. The use of fingerprints and databases proved to be useless in this instance. The girl’s tale and an excess of zeal meant more than all the technology and training.

The deportation of a U.S. citizen is a serious issue. There were no excuses such as a foreign appearance, an accent, or a strange sounding name. Deportations have happened on a number of occasions, as with Pedro Guzman, the illiterate and mentally ill man who was dumped on the streets of Tijuana.

How long will such risks be considered acceptable under the banner of a program that deports innocent people in the name of public safety? Secure Communities has been an embarrassment of confusion, chaos and incompetence.

The Jakadrien Turner case is yet another example of abuses committed in the name of this program. Enough already with such absurd and dangerous mistakes made by program that is incapable of detecting even a teenager’s trick.

Secure Communities continues to show that its incompetence knows no limits.

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