By: Mallory Huron
Bridgeport,CT– Local attorney Alex Meyerovich spoke out recently against the federal Secure Communities program, which went into effect statewide in Connecticut on February 22.
Secure Communities, launched in 2008, is a federal program that combines the resources of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and local law enforcement.
Through the program, any set of fingerprints taken by local law enforcement will automatically be sent first to the FBI for a criminal background check, and next to the ICE database for an immigration status check. If there is a match to a criminal record, and/or ICE records show that the individual is in the U.S. illegally, or “otherwise removable,” the individual will be detained and subject to deportation proceedings.
As of October 2011, the program cites over 110,000 removals of immigrants convicted of crimes, which includes 39,500 removals of immigrants convicted of aggravated felony offenses such as murder, rape, and child sex abuse. The program is set to be in effect nationwide by 2013.
However, although the program is designed to target immigrants convicted of serious and often violent crimes, some claim that it will have possible detrimental side effects.
M.C. Law Group immigration attorney Alex Meyerovich, who opposes the program, discussed the potential pitfalls of Secure Communities on Wednesday, February 22, when the program went into effect across Connecticut.
“For many people, it’s a challenge,” Meyerovich said of the program’s consequences on Wednesday. The program is already proving challenging – and controversial – with many arguing that it could have the problematic consequence of effectively turning local law enforcement into ICE immigration officers.
Secure Communities insists that local law enforcement officers are not given any additional responsibilities under the program, nor are they instructed or authorized to enforce federal immigration law. However, concerns about possible misuse of power linger, as well concerns over the larger impact for local communities.
“This program will probably do more damage to the communities than good,” said Meyerovich. “It creates a disincentive for immigrants to call the police, ever.”
This disincentive, Meyerovich argues, could pose a serious threat to community safety. Immigrants may begin to fear any interaction with local law enforcement, and may avoid reporting anything from car accidents to domestic violence disputes for fear of potential deportation. He maintains that if any resident, whether they reside in the U.S. legally or illegally, is dissuaded from alerting the police about matters of public and personal safety, then Secure Communities will actually be creating insecure and unsafe communities.
Watch the full News12 Connecticut interview with Attorney Meyerovich below.