Top Stories

Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Fingerprinting plan will dramatically increase deportations

By Daphne Eviatar | 05.22.09 | 10:23 am
U.S. Border Patrol agent Gabriel Pacheco walks back to his vehicle along the border fence with its concertino wire topping it Monday Nov. 17, 2008 in San Diego. The government is planning to add concertino wire to additional fenced areas.The Border Patrol is completing installation of razor-sharp wires atop a 5-mile stretch of fence, a move that authorities credit for a sharp drop in attacks on agents by rock-, bottle- and brick-wielding assailants from Mexico. Critics say the prison-style fence is a menacing eyesore.  (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

U.S. Border Patrol agent Gabriel Pacheco walks back to his vehicle along the border fence with its concertino wire topping it Monday Nov. 17, 2008 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The idea of deporting illegal immigrants who are also hardened criminals wouldn’t seem like a controversial idea. So when David Venturella, Executive Director of the Secure Communities Program at Immigration and Customs Enforcement testified to Congress in April, he proudly announced the expansion of his program as part of a “comprehensive effort to increase national security and community safety by identifying, processing, and removing deportable criminal aliens.”

But while there’s strong support for deporting dangerous criminals, federal programs such as this one are extending far beyond that goal and detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants for such minor infractions as running a stop sign or carrying an open container of alcohol.

The Secure Communities program, highlighted in a Washington Post story this week, started as a pilot program by President Bush last year. It requires local police to check the immigration status of everyone booked into a local jail. When suspects are fingerprinted, their identifying information is immediately sent to ICE to determine the suspect’s immigration status. (ICE maintains fingerprint data on all individuals who’ve had contact with immigration authorities.) Undocumented immigrants (and even some immigrants who are legal residents) can eventually be deported after their criminal cases are resolved and any sentence is served. If fingerprints from all 14 million suspects booked into local jails each year were screened this way, DHS estimates, about 1.4 million immigrants would be deemed “criminal aliens” and deportable. By contrast, only 117,000 “criminal immigrants” were deported last year.

But the large numbers of immigrants that could be swept up in the program’s snare is causing serious concern among immigrants’ advocates. Although ICE says its goal is to deport the most serious offenders, under the program, identifying information on all suspects arrested for any sort of alleged crimes will be immediately sent to ICE. If the person shows up in an ICE database as an undocumented immigrant, ICE can place a retainer on the individual — meaning they could begin deportation proceedings against him. So an undocumented immigrant wrongly arrested for a traffic violation could be deported under the Secure Communities initiative as easily as could a convicted felon.

Few statistics are available on who is being targeted and deported under the program so far, since it only began in a few communities last October. But since then, the program has been operating in local facilities that have booked 288,000 people, said Richard Rocha, a spokesman for ICE. Of those, almost 3,000 have been “aliens arrested for or convicted of Level 1 offenses,” said Rocha. A Level 1 offense is a crime that carries a sentence of more than a year in prison, such as murder, robbery, rape or drug crimes. “But we’ve lodged detainers on more than 6000,” said Rocha. So about half of the offenders to be deported were either charged with or found guilty of relatively minor offenses. (Rocha said he did not know how many of the 6000 were categorized as Level 2, and how many were Level 3.)

“It’s deceptively benign,” said Joan Friedland, Immigration Policy Director at the National Immigration Law Center, talking about the Secure Communities program. Friedland and others are particularly concerned because other federal programs aimed at seizing and deporting criminal aliens, such as the 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, have led to charges of racial profiling and, according to the General Accountability Office, deportation of undocumented immigrants picked up for such minor infractions as speeding, carrying an open container of alcohol, and urinating in public. Local police also worry, as a report released this week from the Police Foundation points out, that the program deters undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes and cooperating with local investigations.

Particularly brazen sheriffs in communities with high anti-immigrant sentiment — such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff known for marching illegal immigrants past news cameras in leg irons and prison underwear — appear to be taking advantage of the law to try to rid their counties of as many immigrants as possible. Arpaio is now under federal investigation for racial profiling and other potential civil rights violations.

Immigrant advocates worry that the Secure Communities program could cause even more problems because 287(g) at least trains local officials on using the immigration laws and targeting dangerous criminals. The Secure Communities initiative, by contrast, has no safeguards to prevent its abuse by local authorities or to ensure that ICE focuses on deporting felons or other serious or repeat offenders rather than those arrested for minor infractions or as a pretense.

“Because of how other programs have operated you’d think you’d want something in place when this one starts to prevent its abuse,” said Friedland. Yet, as Rocha confirmed, the program has no regulations that govern how ICE or local authorities are supposed to implement it.
“The problem with Secure Communities,” said Marty Rosenbluth, an immigration lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham, North Carolina, “is there’s no way that we know of to be able to track it. There’s no accountability, there’s no reporting procedures, there’s no way to document in any systematic fashion who’s getting into deportation proceedings because of Secure Communities.” Secure Communities is now operating in 12 communities in North Carolina, and 48 nationwide. DHS plans to expand it to all local law enforcement agencies by the end of 2012.

“Under 287(g) in North Carolina, most people deported have been picked up for driving-related offenses. With Secure Communities, since the identification process is when people are booked, not when they’re convicted, our fear is that the same pattern will duplicate itself,” said Rosenbluth.

Indeed, Ivan Ortiz, an ICE spokesman, told the North Carolina News & Observer when asked about the program: “If the person ran a light, then we need to prioritize our work, and we may not be able to send an agent to the local jail to get them,” Ortiz said. “But I guarantee you, we will catch up to them later.”

Rocha, the ICE spokesman in Washington, confirmed that. “The goal of this plan is to identify and remove all criminal aliens in jails and prisons.” he said. Although the focus will first be “on those who present the greatest risk to public safety and national security,” ICE will also deport other lower-level criminals “as resources permit.”

Immigration lawyers worry that in fact, the low-level criminals will be the bulk of the program’s victims. “Based on my personal experience with 287(g),” says Rosenbluth, “I find it very unlikely that if someone is arrested on a driving-related offense, that if ICE has the capacity to pick that person up, that ICE will just leave them.”

The other problem is that due to flawed databases, the program can ensnare people who are in the United States legally, including U.S. citizens. “I had a client who was in a local jail for three months on an immigration detainer,” said Rosenbluth. “It took me three months to prove he was a U.S. citizen and couldn’t be deported,” he said.

Unlike in criminal court, immigrants don’t have the right to have an attorney represent them in immigration proceedings. So if someone is acquitted of a crime but shows up in a database as being in the United States illegally, he can be deported even if he’s here legally, simply because he can’t prove his legal status and doesn’t have the right to a lawyer who can help him.

“Once Secure Communities hits, particularly in rural areas where there there are very few lawyers, it’s going to be devastating,” said Rosenbluth, who said he’s one of only two immigration lawyers in North Carolina devoted full-time to representing immigrants in deportation proceedings. “People are going to get picked up at a traffic stop, fingerprinted and identified as undocumented even though they have a right to be here.”

What’s more, the program can target people who are innocent, too. “It applies when anyone is fingerprinted by a cooperating law enforcement agent,” said Tom Barry, who directs the TransBorder Project of the Americas at the Center for International Policy. “So if someone is booked for driving without a license and indeed they had a license,” if they’re undocumented, it applies to them, too.

Even people who are legal residents in the United States can be eligible for deportation under the program if they’re arrested and in the past had been convicted of a crime. “It may have been two decades ago,” said Barry. “So people who are longstanding members of a community and legal residents can be deported.”

Ultimately, the determination is made by the ICE officer and whether ICE has room to detain the person. “It depends if they have enough beds, rather than if the person is a dangerous criminal,” said Barry.

According to David Venturella, the Secure Communities program director, between October 2008 and the end of February of this year, ICE has processed “more than 117,000 fingerprint submissions under the program, which resulted in the identification of over 12,000 criminal aliens.” Of those, 862 “have been identified as dangerous criminals,” or Level 1 offenders — which includes nonviolent drug crimes. Even if 862 is a significant number of criminals who can now potentially be deported, that’s only seven percent of the total number of immigrants the program has identified as eligible for deportation. What will happen to the 93 percent of aliens — both legal and illegal — who were arrested for minor infractions remains to be seen.

Daphne Eviatar covers legal affairs for the Washington Independent, a Center for Independent Media site.

Comments

  • Brittanicus

    Los Angeles has deteriorated since the 60's, it's hard for a person who original lived here even recognizes it. As I have to stay here with relatives for a while, my son needed to locate a school. My eyes opened wide to find the educational system is in a terrible mess. I even looked up to see if the American flag was really flying over the school. Sad but true the demographics showed that the majority of the children came from South of the border and within in it's midst hardly any of 4th graders spoke recognizable English. Even the office staff were not conversing in English to my dismay. I learned the majority of kids received free breakfast and lunch, because the impoverished parents couldn't afford to feed them.

    It's hard to blame the children, but my son is getting a second class education in this overcrowded chaos called a school. It shows our borders are not secure, that our country has been overwhelmed by the negligence of our corrupt politicians catering to corporate greed. Coming back to Southern California has turned me into an advocate, for the pro-sovereignty, anti-illegal alien organizations. Los Angeles has turned into a sewer of criminal aliens running rampant with little or no prosecution, owing to a Sanctuary city policy initiated in San Francisco by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Filthy streets scattered with fast food wrappers, clogging drains, illegal alien gang infestation is not the place not to bring up children. City councilor Andronovich stated that $ 11. billion can be attributed to every illegal alien, who breaks into America, get a free lunch on the taxpayers in Los Angeles county. It's run by a a corrupt mayor, who is directed by an even worse bunch of crooked legislators in Sacramento. This ominous pestilence of corruption, has been spreading across the country for many decades..

    LA has become a breeding ground for a society, revolving slowly into a banana republic. The true Angeleno's are hardly aware that their taxes are being drained by illegal aliens and their extended families, swarming here to take advantage of Americans. Legal Los Angeles inhabitants needs to demand a Permanent E-Verify from their government. The system will uncover the illegal workers, opening job opportunities for US workers. Over a period of time rejected by business and not able to find work, the exodus by ATTRITION will begin. American wages must go up and perhaps the elitists, will see through their avarice that American industry is better than importing cheap labor or exporting jobs overseas. Citizens and legal residents must do their part, because they have the ultimate power to–CHANGE THE FUTURE–because otherwise we will sink in a quagmire of multiculturalism, balkanization that has caused massive unrest and demonstrations in Europe. If we allow another AMNESTY our country will turn into a seething cauldron of frustration and anger in a growing OVERPOPULATED NATION. When billions of your tax dollars are spent to pacify open border entities, its up to the American public to fight back. Demand E-Verify from your cringing Senators http://www.senate.gov and Congressman at (202) 224-3121 who see you as a–CASHCOW– for illegal foreign labor and corrupt foreign governments. IMMIGRATION LAWS ARE NOT BROKEN, JUST NOT ENFORCED! So enforce the 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli bill, the Immigration Reform & Control Act as enacted. Offer your support to Rep.Shuler (D-NC) on his gov website. Phone: 828-252-1651 and Senator Sessions (R-AL) (256) 533-097

  • DHConner

    We don't need lawbreakers of ANY kind here in Iowa. Especially those who violate our laws by illegally crossing our borders. We have more than enough to do to raise the living and educational standards of our own poor without being overrun by illegal aliens who bring no skills, no education, and no resources. They then become absolute liabilities, increasing the demand and wear and tear on infrastructure and society in general. Special teachers for language, special labor departments because they don't speak English, taking jobs that were filled by high school and college students in the summer, and permanent jobs that were available to those entering or re-entering the workforce.

    In Mexico avoidance of the law or violating it is seen as nearly a sport. People do not change their culture or behavior just because they cross a border. It is not the responsibility of the US taxpayer to cover the atrocious financial burden these people put on us by their very presence. For every one of them that is here it is ineluctable that each citizen gets less for their tax money. The US$60 billion that goes to Mexico every year is a large sum that should be operating in our markets, not Mexico's. That it is Mexico's single largest source of income should be a strong warning to to all Mexicans that theirs is a society which is seriously malfunctioning and desperately in need of repair.

    The Amnesty of 1986 legitimized the presence of some 3 million illegals, and was supposed to put an end to illegal immigration. Such foolish, nonsensical thinking have brought us to today, where we have by some estimates as many as 25-30 million illegals, and certainly far more in any case than the 12 million the Obama administration claims. Any idiot, even the lowest functioning, knows that you do not reward criminal behavior by legalising it. If that were the solution, there would be “no crime” because all acts would be legalized in order to not have to deal with the problem..

    To those who resort to “it would cost too much to root them all out” I say that cost would be far less than the ultimate cost of continued illegal immigration at the rate of the last 24 years since 1986. For those who support this illegal behavior, I ask them to take on the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY of caring for, feeding, housing, and meeting all the other needs of a fully functioning person in our society. YOU take the financial, legal, and moral burden. Don't ask the 85% of citizens who want illegal immigration stopped. YES, YOU PERSONALLY!! You get into your own financial affairs to make all the payments. Stay the hell out of mine!!

    The State of Wisconsin and the nation of Bangladesh are very nearly exactly the same size. Wisconsin has about 5 million inhabitants. Bangladesh has an estimated 157 million. These facts are from the CIA Factbook at the CIA website. Iowa has about 3 million souls. What do you think Iowa would be like to live in with 50 times as many people? That figures out to at least 150 million people. The “Des Moines Golden Circle” with a diameter of 120 miles (60 mile radius of city center) has about 600,000 people +/-. Let's see, how about 30,000,000 people crowded onto just over 11,000 square miles (Golden Circle area)? 2700 people per square mile? Extrapolate that to the entire nation just for fun. Something like 15 BILLION (300m x 50)? Are you dead certain unrestrained immigration is what you really want? The City of Des Moines alone would have 10,00,000 people within the present city limits !!!

    Those of you who by your words and deeds support the illegals who are here and encourage more to come and help them to come are truly worthy of the words Jesus Christ said as His Earthly life was ending : “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do'. In your desire to “do good” you refuse to see the terrible harm you are doing to our city, our state, and our nation. If were just you who were to sufer the consequences of what you do and say, I would say you deserve it most richly. But we all suffer. Not just you. That I deeply resent, will work t resist and stop entirely.

  • Dan_Kauffman

    detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants for such minor infractions as running a stop sign or carrying an open container of alcohol

    Shouldn't an Illegal Alien be deported for being in the country illegally

  • Dan_Kauffman

    detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants for such minor infractions as running a stop sign or carrying an open container of alcohol

    Shouldn't an Illegal Alien be deported for being in the country illegally

  • Dan_Kauffman

    detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants for such minor infractions as running a stop sign or carrying an open container of alcohol

    Shouldn't an Illegal Alien be deported for being in the country illegally

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