There has been a 30% fall in the rate at which undocumented immigrants are being held by police departments in the United States prior to being deported by the Department of Homeland Security, according to a new report from the Syracuse University independent research organization Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. This fall follows a trend of increasingly fewer requests over the last few years.
The Secure Communities system used by the Department of Homeland Security enables US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ask law enforcement agencies at a local, state and federal level to hold criminals they suspect of being undocumented immigrants in custody. This allows ICE to take them into custody and then deport them from the United State, with those held referred to as ‘detainers’.
Immigrant advocates claim that the system does not target serious criminals and has been the cause of communities being destroyed and families broken up. “The decline in the use of detainers does parallel a period of growing criticism of the Secure Communities program by state and local law enforcement agencies, immigration rights groups and others,” the report notes.
The amount of immigrants detained by the program detained reached a peak in March 2011, when almost 28,000 people were held by the police. This contrasts with less than 8,000 immigrants held just five years earlier in 2006. The Secure Communities program was brought to an end last November and replaced by the less-aggressive Priority Enforcement Program.