By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

CHELSEA (CBS) – Hundreds of people came out to protest – loudly – against a proposed plan that immigrant advocates fear could break up families and cast too wide a net.

The debate is over a federal plan known as the “Secure Communities” program.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

It allows local police to share the fingerprints of people they arrest for felonies with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

If the prints match someone who is in the country illegally, that person could be deported. Federal officials say they determine deportation based on the crime alleged to have been committed and on the person’s specific immigration history. The goal, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, is to find and remove from the country illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes.

The City of Boston has been a test city for the program since 2006 — and now, it is set to go statewide.

That’s why so many people are coming out to voice their opposition, as they did at a Thursday night ICE information session at Chelsea High School.

“This is devastating,” said Gladys Vega, Executive Director of the Chelsea Collaborative. “We are completely appalled that we’re actually having this conversation.”

Vega and other immigrant advocates claim the program goes too far.

“The problem is, in the Boston example so far, more than 50% of the people that they’re deporting under this program in fact have not committed any crime,” according to Carol Rose, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “It’s being used as a large sweep.”

Sunita Patel, a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, says her organization has reviewed the numbers and, in a nutshell, Secure Communities doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Instead, Patel said, it “ends up destroying families and targeting all immigrants, not just the folks the program is supposed to be impacting.”

The program is expected to be in use statewide by the end of 2013.

Comments (40)
  1. RUKiddingMe says:

    Sorry, but illegal immigrants aren’t entitled to an opinion. They should have rounded them all up at the information session.

    1. Steve says:

      Thank you RUKiddingMe, I know immigrants who are good people who came through the correct channels, got their citizenship and contribute to society. But if you want to sneak across the boarder so you can work under the radar so you don’t have to pay any taxes, etc. then you should be deported. And for these immigrant advocates that say they’ve committed no crime… what part of ILLEGAL immigrant is unclear. The whole illegal part pretty much sums it up for me. You want to be here, get your citizenship and do it the right way.

      1. Minute Man Pete says:

        No one sneaks across the “boarder” to “work under the radar” and not pay taxes. They come across to work and earn money. They pay many taxes. They may not pay many federal taxes unless they are attached to specific purchases like gas. But hey, I get a refund every year so I guess I don’t pay taxes in your world too.

    2. ALBY says:

      what about the people who have been waitingm LEGALLY to get into the country,what do we say to them too bad suckers form playing fair.KICK ALL ILLEGALS OUT BY VOTING OUT DEMOCRATS

  2. taxedout says:

    Sharing fingerprints of felons, my goodness why would we not want to keep these people here, who are Not supposed to be here in the first place!!!

  3. robert keohe says:


  4. Miley says:

    immigration officials should have gone to the protest as well and checked the status of everyone there, although that probably would have been the end of the protest since everyone would have been deported. Come to the country legally and pay taxes like everyone else and then you wouldn’t have to worry about it

    1. Minute Man Pete says:

      Yawn. They pay many taxes. If their legality is all that matters, then help advocate for ways where needed migrant workers can enter legally.

    2. ALBY says:

      MILEY great idea,I bet no democrat would show up

  5. Taxpayer says:

    If you are legal you have nothing to worry about. This country isn’t a satelite country of your place of origin. It is AMERICA. lEARN THE LANGUAGE AND THE CUSTOIMS, ASSIMILATE. Don’t bring 3rd world problems to us.

    1. MdeG says:

      Wrong. Scomm threatens us all. Green card holders can be deported for trivial offenses or none; even citizens have been deported. ICE operates without constitutional limits; people get lost in their gulag all the tinme & it can take months to find them. This program is an incentive to malicious denunciations & to false arrest. I’m a citizen & it makes my blood run cold.

  6. Billy Bell says:

    Why do these illegals have a voice at all? I am sick and tired of these people telling us what to do in our own . Kick them out for good.

  7. irrelevant says:

    “this is america, none of us are supposed to be here”
    -pete hornberger, 30 rock

  8. StandingStrong says:

    “The rule of law can be wiped out in one misguided, however well-intentioned, generation.” — William T. Gossett

    1. Minute Man Pete says:

      The rule of law is that we have the right to gather and protest bad laws.

  9. The Facts says:

    Get your facts straight, Carol Rose! Boston’s top cop was interviewed on this program and stated that he personally reviewed every case of criminal illegals deported from Massachusetts (app. 300) since the program was initiated in Boston (2006). He stated that in EVERY deportation case, the illegal was a violent criminal. Put your money where your mouth is, Rose, and give us an example of an innocent who was deported. Misinformation on this subject prevents the community from having an informed opinion about this program. How will we every have a conversation about immigration reform if we can’t agree to deport violent criminal illegals?!?

  10. Rabid Republican says:

    I was there and never met a ruder bunch of people. The hispanics showed their true behavior last night. Indeed, they showed exactly why they shouldn’t be here. The illegals in the crowd got up to the microphone and talked about everything BUT secure communities. Mentioning splitting up families, profiling, spousal abuse; all ignoring the facts about SC. But that’s just it. They don’t want the facts, they want the US to become exactly like the 3rd world countries they left. And why did they leave? Because they wanted free stuff. This smokescreen about jobs is just so much bunk. I would bet that most of the illegals there last night were receivning some kind of government benefits. From our government.

    1. irrelevant says:

      and you don’t think we americans are rude? go anywhere outside the US (GOD FORBID!!!) and observe some americans in action. and how do you know the ones that got up to speak, or any of the attendees for that matter, are illegal? just because someone has an accent and doesn’t agree with your views doesn’t mean they’re illegal. try thinking on your own rather than regurgitating the same old rhetoric we hear from policitians and racists (they’re not mutually exclusive, of course). and don’t worry, america is slowly but surely heading towards third world status but its mainly because of the rich, not poor immigrants who work three jobs just to make ends meet.

  11. Buddy says:

    If they are ilegal what the hell are they still here for in the first place. If the term “Illegal” is not valid then let them stay but I know the definition of “Illegal”. I say send them home. get them the hell out of not only this state but every Commonwealth across the United States!

    It’s simple if your not supposed to be here leave. I have no use for any of them.

  12. Denise says:

    they aren’t “targeting” the illegals that are law abiding citizens (although being here illegally is against the law unto itself). But why would we want to keep anyone in the country that is convicted of a violent crime? What kind of “family” values and life is this person perpetuating? Like I’ve said probably 100 times regarding these types of stories… there is a bridge in Puerto Rico that said and may still say “if you want a FREE life to to Fitchburg, MA”… the US seems to bend over backwards to help outsiders – but those that need the help get overlooked – our Veterans and Elderly! Those that have fought for the rights of all of us – and those that have worked all their lives to have thier benefits decreased or taken away because there are more immigrants that need FREE benefits! SAD SAD SAD!!!!

    1. irrelevant says:

      do you honestly think that our benefits are being taken away because of immigrants?? not because of the greedy powerful ruling class that wastes a majority of our tax dollars on illegal wars or their extravagant salaries, while at the same time giving themselves tax cuts for being, well, rich? please people, try THINKING!! i know they didn’t really teach that to us in school, but still…

  13. Ajay says:

    Many of the elderly are the loudest voices AGAINST illegals… Many of them were born outside this country and went through the proper steps to become an American. I was lucky enough to have been born here and so I’m automatically an American. They actually had to work at it. There’s not sympathy for those that decided to sneak in.

  14. dms says:

    Why does it even matter whether they are convicted felons or not? If you’re here illegally and get caught, you’re out. It has nothing to do with being a nice or bad person. The deciding factor is the illegal immigration status. Might as well change the law to ‘you’re considered an illegal immigrant only if you are here illegal and you are a convicted felon’, otherwise go ahead and rip off our system.

  15. Densie says:

    Irrelevant – along w/ the greedy Americans of the world – yes I do believe that our benefits are being lessened because of our government “GIVING” benefits to those illegal immigrants that have never worked and contributed to the “system” since they got here. I’m not saying they are all like that – nor am I saying that there are many “AMERICANS” taking advantage too. I don’t believe that ANYONE other than those born w/ disabilities that make it impossible for them to work should every be given a free pass! Those that founded this country came here and became members of their communities – learned the language etc… they didn’t want to turn the place they ran to – to become the place they ran from. Why should we have to learn ANYONES language for them to feel “comfortable”? Do you think if I went to France I would require all of them to know english so they could wait on me? No I would make sure I had my French to English dictionary and hope I didn’t insult anyone w/ my bad French! Stop trying to SHOVE everyone elses RIGHTS down my throat… when It’s MY COUNTRY – not theirs… and I don’t have it as good as they do because I was BORN HERE!

  16. MovedOut says:

    People arrested of felonies should absolutely have their fingerprints shared, not just with the federal government, but with other state governments as well. I don’t know what the people are objecting to. If someone is arrested of a felony (a felony, not a petty crime), then why would legals or illegals for that matter want them around?

    1. MdeG says:

      Under the constitution, you are innocent until proven guilty. SComm does not share the prints of convicts. I wouldn’t have a problem with that. It takes *booking* prints and sends them to ICE — even if the person is released without charge.

      If someone is accused of a crime, it’s fair to find out if they’re wanted for another one. FBI does this already.

      What SComm adds is that if you’re not a citizen — even if you’re a Legal Permanent Resident — you can be deported for a trivial offense or for none. My husband’s an LPR, and this program scares me to death. It’s an invitation to profiling.

      1. dms says:

        No LPRs are getting deported for no reason or trivial offenses. This is about tracking down illegal immigrants so they can be send back where they came from.

  17. Cinque says:

    I guess it makes sense to have the protest in Chelsea since it is adjacent to East Boston. That makes it quite easy to fill any building with protestors since both cities have thousands upon thousands of people who are in the United States who aren’t supposed to be. Most liberal thinkers simply can’t comprehend the problem we face with regards to this serious problem since they have never been to either part of Boston. Just wait until you have an accident with someone who not only doesn’t speak English but also does not have a license, insurance or a resistered vehicle.

  18. WhoFarted says:

    Everytime they have one of these protests they should check every single person that shows up…Not just the “Potential Illegals”….Anyone that is not a legal citizen, put them on the fast track back to where they belong…

    I am so tired of this garbage…That was the perfect opportunity to get rid of a whole bunch at once.

  19. Mark says:

    Illegal – good bye

  20. MdeG says:

    “People they arrest for felonies.” Two issues there. One, arrest does not prove guilt. I wouldn’t mind if they deported folks *convicted* of serous crimes. Two, in practice SComm is being used simply as a vehicle for deporting large numbers of folks. Over 50% deported as a result of this program in Boston are not guilty of any serious crime.

    Add to this that this program applies to all noncitizens, including people with clean papers. Legal residents and indeed citizens have been deported, and due to ICE’s fast-and-loose procedures, this is very hard to prevent.

    The right to presumption of innocence, like the other rights enumerated in the Constitution, is not restricted to citizens. It applies to people.

  21. Samuel Rojas says:

    Xenophobia and racism are rampant within the ranks of the Tea Party members who have been bused to the community forums organized by Deval Patrick to validate his own support of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities Program. The forums have exarcebated the hatred a minority of white people feels against immigrants of color. This is generating a serious confrontation that one day we will all regret.

    1. dms says:

      Stop your racism paranoia. This is not about hatred against immigrants of color. This about people living in this country illegally, not paying taxes and taking advantage of any benefit they can get their hands on. I happen to pay taxes which in turn pay for the benefits and that bugs me. They are not bad people but they have broken the law and the consequence should be deportation. What exactly do you think the term ‘illegal immigrant’ means?

      1. Minute Man Pete says:

        “What exactly do you think the term ‘illegal immigrant’ means?”

        Raising my hand wildly in the air. I hope the teacher calls on me.

        It means that when people of color came to this country, starting with the Chinese, they were deemed undesirable and laws were enacted to make them illegal. But it has nothing to do with “race” because they said so.

        That was easy.

  22. Denise says:

    There are good and bad people of all walks of life and of every color! Some people are judged guilty by association. But when you’re made aware of something and still choose to ignore it – when does it become your fault instead of mine?

    I think they should find a secluded island someplace and put all the criminals on it to fend for themselves! Let them develop a society to live in – since they aren’t able to live here and follow our laws!

  23. fred says:

    What about the savage who murdered the mother and child in Brockton, You know the illegal alien who had been arrested several times and each time released to later not show up for his court appearance. This law if it were enforced could have saved the mother and child. there are countless stories of violent crimes being perpertated by illegals who have been previuosly arrested and released. If an American citizen were caught driving drunk, then let go by the police, then caused an accident where someone died or was injured that policeman and town would be facing a wrongful death suit. the same should apply to any municipality that refuses to cooperate with this sane program. once you enter this country with out authorization you have broken the law. that’s it – you’re out. – one more point illegals do depress blue collar workers wages and make it harder for teenagers to find work.. that is a fact to those who work in the private sector-if you dispute that then you obviuosly do not work for a living.

    1. Minute Man Pete says:

      If Bernie Madoff had not been born…

      “If” only all the people who had committed crimes had never been born they would have never been any crime.

      If only…

      Not a very good argument.

  24. irrelevant says:


  25. mark patterson says:

    Irrelevant: your opinions are just that.Illegal is illegal is illegal! What part of illegal don’t you understand? My ancestors came into this country legally and had to suffer a hell of a lot more than these “anchors” will ever have to bear.Ever heard the phrase NINA? It means No Irish Need Apply.Check the history.Oh,before you jump all over my comments and say “Well,you’re an immigrant,too” get this straight.I was born in this country and in addition to having Irish,French,English,and Scottish heritage my great-grandmother was 100% Native American!! Oh yeah,I also lost 7 years off my career thanks to Affirmative Discrimination,I mean Reverse Action…oh wait a minute; it’s Affirmative Action,yeah,that’s the ticket! Boo Hoo,get out of my country.

    1. Minute Man Pete says:

      ice cream is ice cream is ice cream. That sentence is as senseless and invalid in any intelligent discussion about immigration like “illegal is illegal is illegal.”.

      Maybe some people cannot think and argue beyond a sound bite, but our policies must be decided on intelligent debate, not nonsensical lines that sound if they come from some untalented Dr. Seuss wanna-be.

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