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U.S. citizens being detained under Secure Communities

This week, The New York Times revealed one of the not so friendly sides of the federal government's Secure Communities program. The deportation program began earlier this year and is aimed at getting local law enforcement agencies to share information with the Department of Homeland Security.

Under the program, which hopes to have 100 percent participation by 2013, the fingerprints of every person booked at local jails are then run through DHS databases to check for United States citizenship.

If the DHS check shows that the person is an illegal immigrant, DHS agents can ask local law enforcement authorities to detain the suspect for as long as 48 hours. However, because of errors, the Times reported that American citizens are mistakenly being held against their will.

The Times reported that this presents a wrongful arrest issue because the DHS has no legal right to hold an American citizen. This is just one of the ways that American citizens are suffering as a result of the Secure Communities program, it said.

At this point, it is hard to say exactly how many American citizens have been wrongfully detained against their will because it is not something that's recorded systematically.

However, one political science professor at Northwestern University who has studied the topic said that "a low but persistent" percentage of those detained for deportation each year are in fact American citizens.

Anyone who faces allegations of being an illegal immigrant could benefit from the legal assistance of an immigration attorney, whether the person is in fact a citizen or not. Fighting deportation can be an uphill battle, especially with today's laws and regulations.

Source: The New York Times, "Immigration Crackdown Also Snares Americans," Julia Preston, Dec. 13, 2011

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