Editorial from Chicago Tribune: On Tuesday, President Barack Obama went before Univision, a Spanish language TV network, and responded to questions about the record 390,000 immigrants deported in the last two years. " We're focusing primarily on criminals," said Obama, " because we want to focus our resources on those folks who are destructive to the community." Unfortunately, this is not what is happening in Illinois. Secure Communities is the flagship Obama initiative for identifying and deporting immigrant criminals. In Illinois, it has become a dragnet program indiscriminately deporting hundreds of immigrants whose only crime is to work. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics show that 78 percent of those placed in deportation in Illinois are either noncriminals or have committed only minor infractions. ICE agents seem to be ignoring the president's priorities. Moreover, internal ICE memos recently released through the Freedom of Information Act show agency personnel actively working (ultimately unsuccessfully) to circumvent Chicago and Cook County laws protecting immigrants. Secure Communities was authorized by Congress in 2008 as a tool to "identify aliens convicted of a crime, sentenced to imprisonment, and who may be deportable." In November 2009, the Illinois State Police authorized the program in Illinois. Since then 26 of the state's 102 counties have signed onto the program. Secure Communities was marketed to law enforcement as targeting the "worst of the worst" criminals for deportation. Immigrants' fingerprints are submitted to ICE after routine contact with police, including, in one case, the victim of a traffic accident. In McHenry County, for example, 87.3 percent of those placed in deportation do not fit the Obama administration's description of being "destructive to the community." In McHenry, the Tribune uncovered a troubling pattern of Hispanics being stopped for traffic offenses by sheriff's deputies, who then labeled them as "white." By 2009, 1 of 3 traffic stops of Hispanics were being misreported by race. There is another twist to this story. McHenry houses one of two county jails in Illinois under contract with the federal government to hold immigrant detainees, at a rate of $85 a night. Up to 300 detainees, most from other counties, are housed nightly in the McHenry jail, and the federal contract is worth some $$10.5 million a year to the county. Hispanics arrested in McHenry for a traffic violation and who are subsequently held in jail as immigration detainees have become an important source of income for the sheriff's office. There are several problems with the Secure Communities program that local law enforcement officials are beginning to speak out about. The first is that turning the local police into immigration enforcement officers destroys any police community trust. If undocumented immigrants and their many lawful family members in Illinois believe that any minor contact with the law can result in deportation, then none will report crimes or be a witness. The new immigration enforcement responsibilities are also an unfunded mandate. Cash-strapped police and sheriff departments are not reimbursed for the cost of arresting, processing and housing immigrant detainees. Even worse, for those counties that have contracts with the federal government to jail immigrants, a perverse economic incentive has been created to fill their jails with immigrant detainees. The Secure Communities program is not a good use of law enforcement dollars. Joshua Hoyt commentary: An incentive to target Hispanic drivers? - chicagotribune.com -------------------------------------------------------------- Why are hispanics being targeted? Are you kidding? What group is forcing a foreign language on the people of the United States? What group is grabbing American tax dollars and funneling them into Latino Only projects? What group is forcing local governments to ignore the crimes of Latinos so they can use those towns to store criminals from Latin America? What group is forcing those local governments to accept the Latino culture of packing homes meant only for single families of no more than 6 family members with 15 to 20 "renters"?