How a controversial immigration program is taxing you
Advocates call for an end to the Secure Communities program.
Complying with a federal immigration program costs California taxpayers about $65 million dollars per year, estimates a new report. In Los Angeles County alone, the program, Secure Communities, costs $26 million per year.
Secure Communities is a controversial program that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses throughout the country to identify and deport immigrants who are detained by local law enforcement and have civil immigration violations. It does so without imposing “new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement,” according to a government website.
When someone is arrested, Secure Communities uses an existing FBI database of fingerprints to check their backgrounds. If ICE wishes to pursue a case, it places a 48-hour hold.
The report shows, however, that the average length of stay for people who are released from the Los Angeles County Jail to ICE custody is 32.3 days, or 20.6 days longer than other individuals (11.7 days on average).
The cost to Los Angeles County was calculated by looking at the extended length of stay and the per day cost for keeping someone in jail.
County jails already have an increased the number of inmates. Three years ago, a panel of judges ordered a reduction in the overcrowded state prison population. To alleviate prisons, nonviolent felons are now being housed in county jails through a process called: realignment.
Advocates are calling for an end to the Secure Communities program. They say that, in addition to its other failures, it is an expensive weight on local jails and ultimately taxpayers.
“[It] is a massive unfunded mandate and an enormous burden on California taxpayers,” said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON). “It’s time we put this ineffective, dangerous, and expensive program to rest.”
ICE did not return a call for comment on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a messy system,” said Judy Green, director of Justice Strategies and author of the report. “This is costing us a lot of money and not accomplishing much of anything.”
Data for the report was released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Office through a lawsuit brought by NDLON and the National Immigration Law Center.
In California, more than 75,000 immigrants were deported through Secure Communities since the program began three years ago.