Report: ‘ICE did not clearly communicate…the intent of Secure Communities’
Immigration officials may not have intentionally misled lawmakers or the public about the controversial Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, but their communication strategy was a mess, according to an investigation by Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
The OIG investigation was requested last year by California’s Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from San Jose, after states and local jurisdictions trying to withdraw from the federal fingerprint-sharing program began learning they could not. It’s one of two new OIG reports related to Secure Communities, the other addressing the program’s operations.
The communications analysis is perhaps the most interesting of the two, among other things examining the Secure Communities memorandums of agreement, called MOAs, which states and jurisdictions signed after the program began rolling out in late 2008.
The MOAs’ language gave the impression that the program was voluntary. From the report:
The use of MOAs generated questions as to whether participation in Secure Communities was voluntary or mandatory. According to current and former ICE personnel, the agency chose to use MOAs because they had been used in past enforcement and removal programs, such as the 287(g) Program, to establish the responsibilities of ICE and States or local jurisdictions. However, the 287(g) Program was a voluntary program.
…All 42 MOAs we reviewed included a modification and termination clause that may have added to the confusion regarding participation in Secure Communities. The clause stated that “either party, upon 30 days’ written notice to the other party, may terminate the MOA at any time. A termination notice shall be delivered personally or by certified or registered mail and termination shall take effect 30 days after receipt of such notice.” Because it allows for unilateral termination, a State could interpret the language of this clause to mean it could choose not to submit fingerprints to DHS and to end its participation in Secure Communities.
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