By Moravia de la O International Team – Mexico Witness for Peace
Last year a record 393,000 immigrants have been deported by the Obama Administration. That means that since President Obama took office, there have been over 1 million immigrants deported.
The US government credits the high number of deportations to the growing implementation of its Secure Communities program. Launched in early 2008, Secure Communities is a highly problematic program which extends the reach of ICE officials into local and state jails. For jurisdictions that are part of Secure Communities, every person who is arrested has their fingerprints run through an immigration database.
Although the program is supposed to prioritize “dangerous” criminals, an overwhelming majority of those deported because of Secure Communities are not serious offenders. And this is not the only problem with the program. By giving local police immigration duties, there is more incentive for police to racially profile and arrest people they suspect of being undocumented. In addition, this discourages people from reporting crimes to the authorities for fear of being deported. Secure Communities is in fact making communities less safe.
More and more, those deported are people who have spent significant amounts of time in the US. They leave spouses and children behind without knowing how and when they will be able to see them. When deportation figures are released, it is hard to not be startled by the high numbers. It is even harder to not be angered when you start to think about how many families have had their entire lives interrupted and affected by the deportation of a loved one.
Often those deported return to communities and countries that they hardly know. Carlos Ruiz knows what it feels like to be unable to see your family and have to start a new life in a foreign place. This summer, we chronicled his story and that of other return migrants. Their stories show the high human cost of the United States’ immigration policy.