Immigration reform is being considered on the state and federal level as citizens and legislatures grapple to settle upon policies that may affect millions of people in this country. In Florida, the topic of immigration law is an especially sensitive one for many people, as countless families, businesses, and entire communities must continually deal with issues regarding citizenship and deportation. That is why many people may find a recent investigation and report on current arrest and deportation practices in the state to be particularly disturbing.
The inquiry, which was conducted by Florida International University and Americans for Immigrant Justice, found that over 60 percent of those arrested and deported through one program in Miami and Dade were either innocent of a crime or only minor offenders. That statistic is unsettling because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), under the advisement of the Obama Administration, is supposed to investigate undocumented immigrants who have convictions on their record and/or pose a public safety or national security threat. Evidence suggests, though, that less than 20 percent of those apprehended under ICE’s Secure Communities program were actually legitimate threats.
ICE representatives contend that the process of identifying high-priority deportation cases is strengthened by its program. The agency also argues that recommendations for prioritizing offenders are just that, suggestions.
Some immigration rights advocates and those involved in conducting the investigation claim that the Secure Communities initiative has led to many incidents of unfounded arrests and deportations throughout southern Florida.
Until comprehensive immigration reform is passed in the state of Florida, those on both sides of the issue may feel insecure about how current policies should be interpreted and who is vulnerable under the law.
Source: Huffington Post, “South Florida Deportations Flout Immigration Policy, Focus On Minor Offenders: Report,” David Adams, April 15, 2013