Chris Zimmerman Speaks “Frankly and Honestly” About “Secure Communities”

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    Last night at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, County Board Vice Chair Chris Zimmerman gave a powerful speech on immigration, and specifically on the program called “Secure Communities.” Check it out.

    • DanielK

      I’ll preface this by saying that the Secure Communities Program is strongly supported by President Obama and rightly so.  For Mr. Zimmerman to say that this program is anti-immigrant and dangerous to the community is a direct attack on President Obama that is quiet wrong given his common sense approach to finding a balance between enforcement and reform.  There must be both.

      First, Secure Communities has NO impact on local law enforcement much like SB1070 is trying to do or even when Prince William County attempted to deputize their police department under 287 g.  Secure Communities ONLY deals with arrested individuals who would be booked into the Arlington County Detention Center and in the custody of the Sheriff’s Office.  No information would be obtained or ran through Secure Communities by a patrol officer with the Arlington County Police as that is not how the system is set up.  This is directly different from 287g where officers are also trained and authorized to investigate immigration status.  Under Secure Communities, the local police would have no more or less power when dealing with alleged illegal immigrants they encounter and run through basic state and national database search like when someone is pulled over on a traffic stop for example.  Sadly, a speech like this would make many appear that any encounter with law enforcement leads to potential deportation and this is so far from the truth, especially with this program.  

      Secondly, the federal government and ICE should be directly tasked with immigration enforcement and through Secure Communities that is how it is handled.  ICE agents are the ones who determine if someone is in the country illegally and whether or not they should be placed into removal proceedings.  ICE Director Morton and Secretary Napolitano have gone out of their way to ensure that this targets thought illegal immigrants who pose the greatest risk such as violent criminals or previously deported felons.  This is a significantly better alternative than patrol officers who may not be given directives about who would be prioritized for removal.  I personally believe that local officers would be more willing to place illegal immigrants into removal proceedings based on what they perceive as serious as compared to ICE officers through their directives from higher supervisors and DHS.  An argument that local law enforcement should accept I-247 detainers from ICE is legally flawed because under that logic then local law enforcement should not accept any federal detainers for any federal offenses the arrested individual is also suspected of.

      Lastly, since ICE is responsible for enforcing immigration it is not accurate for local officials to say it is not their job to enforcement immigration but then protest when “minor offenses” are used for deportation.  If they apply their logic to the present situation then they cannot say who should be placed into removal proceedings and for what charges.  That is the federal government’s responsibility.  Unlike, the previous administration the current director of DHS is from a border state and has first hand experience with the issue unlike the previous director and have more faith she will know how to direct her very limited resources.

      In closing, (and I apologize for the length) the immigration debate is filled with extremes and this doesn’t even compare to the extremes of the far right-wing/Corey Stewart, Bob Marshall, et al. I personally believe that Virginia having 100% participation in Secure Communities significantly weakens Stewart’s efforts to incorporate his “Rule of Law” legislation this next cycle.  (I plan on personally using that argument in advocating against “Virginia Rule of Law”)  By ensuring that all arrested illegal immigrants are fingerprinted through the course of a regular arrest it will serve nothing more than a duplication of services that Virginia doesn’t need.  For jurisdictions to fight against initiatives like Secure Communities that have significant bi-partisan support will only further embolden politicians like Stewart and Marshall to push unnecessary and damaging legislation that more must be done to combat ***add basic GOP banter*** and everything else.