Lawyers have filed suit seeking records from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) about their Secure Communities program, according to an El Paso Times article. The suit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based organization that intends to help guarantee rights promised by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in conjunction with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in Los Angeles and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York
The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in New York City, follows a February filing under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the same documents that resulted in ICE releasing none.
The groups behind the suit allege that the ICE program is creating a less safe environment by granting too much power to local police forces allowing them to check one’s immigration status by collecting a biometric sample and comparing it to the Homeland Security database. Additionally, they fear the expansion of the program has progressed too quickly with the public not having any information on the program’s statistics and procedures relating to error rates, costs, oversight, accountability, racial profiling and civil-rights complaints.
ICE officials maintain, however, that the Secure Communities program merely allows local law enforcement to utilize a suspect or detainee’s biometrics such as fingerprints, hand prints, DNA information and face recognition in conjunction with the federal databases to more accurately and efficiently ascertain their identity. Further, and more importantly, ICE maintains that local law enforcement personnel are not allowed to enforce any federal immigration laws under the program.
Despite the hard line the ICE is taking on the question of the program violating constitutional rights, the groups behind the suit claim that the majority of deportees under the program have been detained for minor offenses such as traffic violations rather than the violent criminals the program was designed to find.
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