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'Secure Communities' to be examined by Inspector General

Most South Carolina counties have signed on to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement's program that is aimed at helping immigration officials find and deport criminals who are in the country illegally.

However, it was announced this week that the program, called "Secure Communities" will be investigated by the United States Inspector General after lawmakers have expressed concerns over the effects of its enforcement.

The critics allege that while Secure Communities was promoted as a way to track down and deport dangerous criminals, in effect it leads to racial profiling and the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes.

Opponents say that the program could isolate immigrant communities and make the communities less safe as victims and witnesses become too afraid to contact local law enforcement for fear of being deported.

Ultimately, the program allows the fingerprints of undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes and are booked in state prisons and local jails to be run against federal immigration databases to see if they have committed serious crimes anywhere else. It was reported that the Obama Administration would like the program implemented nationwide by 2013.

But the program has become very controversial and some jurisdictions across the country have withdrawn from participating, saying that ICE was not implementing the program as it said it would.

In one example of this, an undocumented California woman ended up being fingerprinted and faced deportation after calling the police to report that her boyfriend was abusing her.

While ICE decided not to go forward with the deportation, opponents of the program use this woman's experience to show its potential effect on people who are not criminals and do not pose a threat to society.

On the other hand, advocates who support strict immigration enforcement say that the program is doing its job even it leads to the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes.

Source: Fox News Latino, "U.S. Inspector General to Investigate "Secure Communities" Program," Elizabeth Llorente, 5/19/2011.

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