Boston police will continue to check the immigration status of everyone arrested and if they are identified as a dangerous criminal and are in this country illegally, they will be deported.
Police Commissioner Ed Davis is defending the federal program, called “Secure Communities”, saying it keeps a lot of bad people off the streets.
Boston began the program in September ’06, two months prior to Davis becoming commissioner, as a way to make sure they everyone who was taken into custody was properly identified.
Previously, fingerprints were just checked against the Department of Justice biometric system kept by the FBI.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants to have the program in every jail by 2013. ICE said hundreds of jurisdictions in 29 states have implemented the program so far.
From October 2008 through June of this year, nearly 47,000 people identified through Secure Communities were deported, according to government data released in July as part of a lawsuit by immigrant advocacy groups. Of those, 9,831 were labeled as having committed the most serious crimes, while 12,293 were considered non-criminals.
Davis said Boston’s participation in the program is not aimed at detaining immigrants for minor criminal offenses like motor vehicle violations.
According to ICE, between November 2008 to July 2010, around 50 level-1 offenders – those convicted of homicide, rape, drug trafficking or other serious crimes – have been removed from the Boston area. Another 50 or so convicted of felonies or minor drug offenses also were removed from Boston, ICE numbers showed.
Montes said her group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, is planning to offer training next month to immigrants on how to respond to police.
Davis said the department is willing to speak with immigrant advocacy groups about the program.