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
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
Civil rights, human rights, immigrant rights and faith-based organizations—206 of them—sent this letter (PDF) to Attorney General Eric Holder on May 7, 2012, asking that he “fulfill his stated commitment to ending racial profiling by reforming the [Dept. of Justice] June 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.”
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).