The Secure Communities program has led to the deportation of 47,000 people over 18 months.
The program is one of several Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) programs targeting immigrants charged or convicted of crimes. Overall, 49 percent of the immigrants ICE has deported so far this year have been criminals, compared to 35 percent all of last fiscal year.
From October 2008 through June of this year, 46,929 people identified through Secure Communities were removed from the U.S., says an AP report. Of those, 12,293 were considered non-criminals and 9,831 were labeled as having committed the most serious crimes. Fingerprints of people booked into jails already are sent to state criminal justice departments to be checked against federal criminal databases. Under Secure Communities, they also go to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run through Homeland Security databases.
ICE divides crimes into three categories, with Level 1 being the most serious. Level 1 crimes include actions that threaten or compromise national security, murder, rape, drug crimes punishable by more than one year, theft and even resisting arrest. Most of those deported committed Level 2 or 3 crimes or were non-criminals, the AP report says.
California had the highest percentage of immigrants deported who had committed Level 1 crimes, with 38 percent of a total 14,823 immigrants sent out of the country, according to statistics from 24 of the states participating through the end of June. In Georgia, 39 percent of 624 immigrants removed were non-criminals, the highest rate among the states. Travis County, Texas led all counties with the highest percentage of non-criminals deported, 82 percent of 724.