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What’s in your wallet? Unintended Consequences of Secure Communities for United States Citizens


What’s in your wallet? Unintended Consequences of Secure Communities for United States Citizens


Many immigrants subject themselves to the immigration process to finally arrive to the day when they can take an oath of citizenship and be done with dealing with immigration agencies.  However, the New York Times recently reported on several incidents where Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained naturalized and United States born U.S. citizens and initiated removal proceedings against them.  Although exact figures are not available, one study documented at least 82 cases between 2006 and 2008.  Part of the blame for these incidents can be placed on Secure Communities, the Department of Homeland Security program that allows local law enforcement agencies to verify immigration status.  The Secure Communities database is not always accurate.  The Department of Homeland Security fingerprints immigrants at every step of the immigration process eventually leading to citizenship and does the same for people it is trying to remove from the country.  Thus, the Department of Homeland Security presumably has the fingerprints of all naturalized U.S. citizens.  However, fingerprints are being matched with inaccurate data, causing the unauthorized detention of naturalized U.S. citizens without a realization that these persons are indeed U.S. citizens.  Advocacy to abandon or restrict Secure Communities for this and the many other reasons the program is flawed is important.  However, in the meantime, maybe carrying one of those laminated passport cards would not be such a bad idea.

See NY Times article on U.S. citizens being detained for removal:


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