Feds to Check Jails for Illegal Immigrants

Program would boost deportation, though at steep costs
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2009 10:17 AM CDT
Feds to Check Jails for Illegal Immigrants
Demonstrators pass City Hall during a march and rally for immigration law reform in Los Angeles, May 1, 2009.    (AP Photo)

The US government is ramping up a program to identify illegal immigrants being held in local jails for non-immigration crimes, and flag them for deportation, reports the Washington Post. Currently operating in 48 counties, the program will be screening every local jail by 2012. The program was started under President Bush, and jibes with President Obama’s pledges to focus on law-breaking illegal immigrants over law-abiding ones.

“Secure Communities” has critics on both sides. “If the Obama administration abandons immigration enforcement in all but the most serious criminal cases, then they will create a de facto amnesty,” warns a Texas congressman. And the head of a nonprofit policy institute sees unintended consequences for innocent immigrants, being “pulled into this net even for minor violations that they’re booked for.” (More illegal immigration stories.)

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