National Immigration Law Center
Sign up for email updates.

Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

PEP, "Secure Communities," 287(g), Etc.


How ICE Uses Local Criminal Justice Systems to Funnel People Into the Detention and Deportation System

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has come to rely heavily on state and local criminal justice systems in order to find non–U.S. citizens who may be deportable and push them into the detention and deportation process. This collaboration is a complex and ill-defined entanglement consisting of a web of unregulated and overlapping Immigration and Customs Enforcement programs and mechanisms whose parameters and operations easily mutate, that are not restrained by formal regulations or mechanisms of accountability, that operate with little transparency, and that do not closely monitor or hold accountable the criminal justice systems that arrest and detain the people who end up in ICE custody.

PEP – Priority Enforcement Program

Why ‘PEP’ Doesn’t Fix S-Comm’s Failings

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced executive actions to change some aspects of our immigration system. One of these announcements, outlined in a memo whose subject is “Secure Communities,” eliminated the widely discredited Secure Communities (S-Comm) program and replaced it with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP).

We continue to learn more details about PEP, but what we already know raises serious concerns that PEP suffers from the same problems that led to S-Comm being terminated. Like S-Comm, PEP will result in the permanent separation of families through deportation and will threaten public safety by eroding trust between communities and the police.

Secure Communities, 287(g), and Related Programs


How the Long-Awaited S-Comm “Reforms” Are Designed to Fail

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on April 27, 2012, issued its response to findings and recommendations made by the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Task Force on Secure Communities. Despite having taken seven months to review and respond to the task force’s recommendations, ICE remains unwilling to truly examine and reform S-Comm and, in its response, does not take even the most modest recommendations seriously. This issue brief summarizes the task force’s recommendations and ICE′s disappointing response to them.

DHS Proposes Fantasy Remedies to Cure Fundamental Flaws in the Secure Communities Program

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has felt the heat of criticism from Capitol Hill and beyond about how Secure Communities has operated since its inception. On June 17, 2011, ICE director John Morton and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties director Margo Schlanger announced “reforms” to the program. This document analyzes and critiques the memos issued to implement the announced reforms.

DHS’s “Secure Communities”: No Rules of the Road

  • DHS is imposing Secure Communities on localities nationwide despite earlier insistence that the program was voluntary. 

  • SCOMM is an unfunded mandate that local communities enforce federal immigration law. 

  • SCOMM targets everyone who has ever had any dealings with the immigration system — not a prioritized set of dangerous criminals.

  • SCOMM operates in a rule-free environment.

The following memo, which no longer is available on the ICE website, is cited in the above analysis: Setting the Record Straight (Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Aug. 17, 2010, PDF).

Victimizing the Victims

Victims and witnesses are at particular risk as a result of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) programs, such as 287(g), Secure Communities,and the Criminal Alien Program, that involve state and local law enforcement in federal immigration enforcement. These programs are an attack on all people who look or sound foreign, regardless of whether they have been convicted of the offense in question and regardless of their immigration status."

ICE Reforms Fail to Solve Fundamental 287(g) Problems

Based on interviews, direct observations, and a review of documents related to the 287(g) program, the OIG report juxtaposes evidence of serious problems with recommendations for change and ICE’s response to those recommendations. Of the 33 recommendations the OIG makes, ICE itself concurs with 32. The OIG report confirms issues raised by advocates since implementation of INA section 287(g) began in 2002 and provides damning evidence that the program is fundamentally flawed.

Secure Communities? A Dangerous Merger:
ICE Enforcement Programs in the Criminal Justice System

A PowerPoint presentation accompanying a Mar. 4, 2010, webinar presented by: Detention Watch Network, Immigrant Defense Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Washington Defender Association’s Immigration Project, National Immigration Project of NLG, National Immigration Law Center, and Rights Working Group.

Overview of the Key ICE ACCESS Programs:
287(g), the Criminal Alien Program, and Secure Communities

ICE has grouped the major programs that merge immigration enforcement with the criminal justice system under an umbrella scheme called Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security (ICE ACCESS).

More Questions Than Answers about the Secure Communities Program

"Secure Communities" applies to immigrants regardless of their guilt or innocence, how or why they were arrested, and whether or not their arrests were based on racial or ethnic profiling or were just a pretext for checking immigration status. ICE fact sheets and press releases leave many critical questions unanswered.

From Sister Organizations

A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed “Secure Communities” Program

Prepared by a commission made up of national and community-based organizations that have witnessed the impacts of S-Comm on their members and communities.