If an undocumented immigrant were to be arrested in Prince George’s County, they would spend an additional two days in jail thanks to immigration agents, no matter what the status of the charge or if they have any previous criminal record. However, not far away in Washington DC, the standard is different and immigrants would be delayed further only if they were involved in a serious crime.
Advocates for immigrants who are being deported from the United States via the Secure Communities federal program want to have the country’s patchwork of local law enforcement policies changed, saying that the extra detainment time increases an immigrant’s chances of ending up being deported. “There’s a huge number of people being locked up who would otherwise be dismissed,” says immigrant advocacy group CASE de Maryland’s lead organizer, Elizabeth Alex.
Thanks to Secure Communities, a large number of immigrants with no criminal convictions are being deported from Maryland, the Baltimore Sun claims. Over 40% of immigrants in Maryland that have been deported over the course of the last five years had no previous criminal record, in comparison with 20% in the United States in general.
Democrat Governor Martin O’Malley has asked the Department of Homeland Security to explain why innocent people are being deported via a program that was created to catch dangerous criminals. As yet the Department has not replied nor responded to media requests for them to comment on the Governor’s stated concerns.