One of the most controversial issues in immigration has to be undocumented immigration and crime. Many individuals and groups who call for tougher laws for undocumented immigrants assert that one of the reasons why tougher laws are needed is because some undocumented immigrants commit crimes which harm lawful residents. They also argue that these crimes take up taxpayer dollars.
Another very controversial issue is what to do with undocumented immigrants who have been found to have committed a crime or even minor infraction — such as a traffic violation. Should these undocumented immigrants be persecuted for immigration violations as well? Should the focus remain only on the initial infraction? In recent years, new legislation has allowed for more communication between immigration officials and local police authorities, even though immigration is a federal concern. The improved communication has made it easier for local police to check the immigration status of those who are arrested. Supporters of these changes have stated that this allows undocumented immigrants to be found and held accountable. Opponents, however, note that the move places a larger burden on police forces, makes local police involved in what is a federal level and unfairly targets undocumented immigrants who may not have committed a serious crime. Some also note that detaining undocumented immigrants for immigration violations uses up even more taxpayer dollars and makes undocumented immigrants mistrustful of police, making it harder for police to do their jobs.
Now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released a statement saying that they will no longer be automatically detaining possible undocumented immigrants who have no criminal record and who have been arrested for only minor traffic infractions. If the suspects are convicted of the traffic offenses, then they may be detained for the immigration violations. The changes from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are the latest in an overall push to change how undocumented immigrants are detained. The changes come after a task force has made recommendations about the issue after a review of a federal program that checks immigration records against fingerprints taken from those arrested.
Advocates of immigration reform have stated that the move is a positive step, but are still upset with the federal program. They say that automatically targeting possible undocumented immigrants and checking fingerprints encouraged racial profiling and encourages the incarceration of those who have no criminal records and who have done little wrong. Others have stated that relaxing the rules of the federal Secure Communities program makes it easier for those who break the law.