For Truly Secured Communities

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary What if the local police were taught to view you as a potential suspect without probable cause or a case history of you ever having committed a crime? What if you were suspected for just being what you are instead of anything you did? This has happened in a growing number of cases whereby police searched, arrested and jailed people on the basis of their race and ethnic group. Sadly, this has been happening in regards with local and state police under the federal Secured Communities program.

What is the program? It is theoretically a program whereby federal immigration agents train state and local police to act on immigration matters as well as doing their law enforcement duty to catch undocumented violent offenders. Three major problems with the program. First, not just violent offenders have been caught under this program. Undocumented as well as legal permanent residents have been caught under this program because they “fit the criminal type” (i.e. profiling). Undocumented whose sole illegal act was being in this country without papers have also been deported as well as the undocumented violent offenders. Second, U.S. citizens have also been caught in this program. Finally, this program has put many immigrant and Latino communities on edge because of the Secured Communities program.

This has caused three states, New York, Illinois, and recently Massachusetts, to withdraw from the federal program. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick stated very clearly that this program was driving a wedge between the immigrant and Latino communities on the one hand and the police on the other. If people feel they cannot trust the police then they will not come forward to testify nor help the police deal with crime. This will make communities anything but secure. Besides, Governor Patrick needs the funding to deal with other state problems and this in his view is a money waster.

I have to applaud Governor Patrick and the other state governments for getting out of this federal program. If the states need to deal with rising crime then they should use their resources to do so and not rely on a questionable federal program. The police will nail any and all criminals regardless of their immigration status, and will hand those violent criminals over to U.S. immigration once these criminals have completed their time. This is the best way to deal with crime. Three states recognize this fact, and they also realize that the best way to get the criminals is to have the people in all the local communities trust the police and all lawful agencies.

The federal government should primarily be concerned with crimes committed between state lines and not training police in any state to go after a criminal because of their immigration status. That will only scare the people in the local communities who feel they may be the target. In this day of age when money is scarce, police and state government resources are limited, and bad economic times make it easier for criminals, it makes no sense to intimidate the people on the basis of their racial, ethnic or immigration status. Thank goodness three state have let common sense triumph over political correctness.

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