[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
IS SECURE COMMUNITIES KEEPING OUR COMMUNITIES SECURE?
IMMIGRATION POLICY AND ENFORCEMENT
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 30, 2011
Serial No. 112-69
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
LAMAR SMITH, Texas, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
Wisconsin HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina JERROLD NADLER, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ROBERT C. ``BOBBY'' SCOTT,
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia Virginia
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio ZOE LOFGREN, California
DARRELL E. ISSA, California SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MIKE PENCE, Indiana MAXINE WATERS, California
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia STEVE COHEN, Tennessee
STEVE KING, Iowa HENRY C. ``HANK'' JOHNSON, Jr.,
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona Georgia
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas PEDRO R. PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico
JIM JORDAN, Ohio MIKE QUIGLEY, Illinois
TED POE, Texas JUDY CHU, California
JASON CHAFFETZ, Utah TED DEUTCH, Florida
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania [Vacant]
TREY GOWDY, South Carolina
DENNIS ROSS, Florida
SANDY ADAMS, Florida
BEN QUAYLE, Arizona
MARK AMODEI, Nevada
Sean McLaughlin, Majority Chief of Staff and General Counsel
Perry Apelbaum, Minority Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
ELTON GALLEGLY, California, Chairman
STEVE KING, Iowa, Vice-Chairman
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California ZOE LOFGREN, California
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
TED POE, Texas MAXINE WATERS, California
TREY GOWDY, South Carolina PEDRO R. PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico
DENNIS ROSS, Florida
George Fishman, Chief Counsel
David Shahoulian, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
NOVEMBER 30, 2011
The Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress from
the State of California, and Chairman, Subcommittee on
Immigration Policy and Enforcement............................. 1
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress from the
State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Immigration Policy and Enforcement............................. 2
The Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Texas, and Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary....... 6
Gary Mead, Executive Associate Director, Enforcement and Removal
Operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United
States Department of Homeland Security
Oral Testimony................................................. 8
Prepared Statement............................................. 10
Julie Myers Wood, President, ICS Consulting, LLC
Oral Testimony................................................. 17
Prepared Statement............................................. 20
Sam Page, Sheriff, Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Rockingham
Oral Testimony................................................. 27
Prepared Statement............................................. 29
Arturo Venegas, Jr., Project Director, Law Enforcement Engagement
Oral Testimony................................................. 38
Prepared Statement............................................. 40
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative
in Congress from the State of California, and Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement............. 4
Material submitted by the Honorable Maxine Waters, a
Representative in Congress from the State of California, and
Member, Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement..... 55
Material submitted by the Honorable Steve King, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Iowa, and Member, Subcommittee on
Immigration Policy and Enforcement............................. 64
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Texas, and Chairman, Committee on
the Judiciary.................................................. 67
Material submitted by the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative
in Congress from the State of California, and Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement............. 68
IS SECURE COMMUNITIES KEEPING OUR COMMUNITIES SECURE?
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2011
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration
Policy and Enforcement,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1:40 p.m., in
room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Elton
Gallegly (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Gallegly, Smith, King, Lofgren,
Jackson Lee, and Waters.
Staff Present: (Majority) Dimple Shah, Counsel; Marian
White, Clerk; and (Minority) Hunter Hammill, USCIS Detailee.
Mr. Gallegly. Call to order the Subcommittee on Immigration
Policy and Enforcement to order. Over the past year, the Obama
administration has taken several steps to grant relief to
illegal immigrants and other removable aliens without approval
of Congress. These actions strain the constitutional separation
of powers and will defy the will of the American people. They
are part of the Administration's unrelenting effort to grant
amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Unfortunately, the Administration is imperiling the Secure
Communities program as part of this effort. Secure Communities
is a powerful law enforcement tool that allows U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement to detain removable aliens arrested by
local law enforcement agencies.
Secure Communities grew out of a local law enforcement
program that we established in the mid-1990's. In the 1996
illegal immigration reform bill, I included a provision that
established a pilot program in Anaheim and Ventura County,
California, that authorized local law enforcement officials to
screen criminals in local jails prior to being arraigned. And
in 1997, this program was expanded to jurisdictions throughout
the United States.
Today this program, which is now called Secure Communities,
is supported by local law enforcement organizations across the
Nation, including the Major County Sheriffs Association.
Ultimately, Secure Communities assists local law
enforcement with the identification and remove of criminal
aliens, making it a vital tool for protecting the safety of our
streets and neighborhoods. Yet, amnesty groups remain
stubbornly opposed to it and claim that Secure Communities
results in racial profiling. However, it is perplexing how a
computer can racially profile when everyone who comes to the
attention of law enforcement is checked through a database.
From the outset, the Administration has failed to enforce
our immigration laws and has effectively placed its own
political agenda ahead of its constitutional responsibilities
to carry out the laws enacted by Congress. Secure Communities
is certainly no exception. The Administration is taking what is
otherwise a useful law enforcement tool and making changes to
it, not to strengthen the program, but to undermine it.
The Administration has taken several steps to satisfy the
desires of pro-amnesty groups, including the formation of a
task force consisting largely of amnesty supporters that is
designed to tell the Administration how and when it should
ignore the laws written by Congress. Never before, to my
knowledge, has an outside group composed largely of members
with little enforcement and operational knowledge of the
Department of Homeland Security been permitted to provide
advice on enforcement immigration laws.
I, along with other Members, have urged the Administration
to reverse the policy of granting administrative amnesty to
illegal immigrants by misusing so-called priorities.
The Administration needs to focus on creating jobs for
American citizens and legal workers instead of looking for
backdoor means to permit illegal immigrants to stay in this
I, at this time, would yield to the gentlelady, my friend
from California, the Ranking Member, Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The title of the
hearing is simple, ``Is Secure Communities Keeping Our
Communities Secure?'' And I think that is the central question
we need to ask in this hearing on SCOM. Whether the program is
a success depends entirely on whether it is actually making our
communities safer and more secure.
Some of us on the Subcommittee have opinions on this
subject, and I am sure that DHS has opinions on the subject,
but none of us really are experts and we really need to ask
those we entrust with community safety and learn their views
about whether this is working to protect and serve our
Now some have been arguing about enforcement numbers and
prosecutorial discretion and so-called administrative amnesty.
While we were doing this, law enforcement officials all over
the country have been speaking out and asking for help.
Sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors, both Democrats and
Republicans, have been increasingly vocalizing concerns about
SCOM as it is currently designed, saying that it actually
threatens public safety and endangers the communities they are
sworn to protect.
Now SCOM was advertised to State and local law enforcement
as a simple, voluntary, race-neutral, information sharing
program focused on catching the most serious criminals. And as
advertised, that program would make a great deal of sense. In a
world of limited enforcement resources it is just common sense
to prioritize the removal of dangerous criminals. And an
electronic information sharing program to find and catch such
individuals, that would be a laudable thing. That's especially
true when the program would be implemented with the consent of,
and coordination and consultation, with State and local law
enforcement officials who, after all, know best how to protect
their own communities.
But according to a growing number of these State and local
law enforcement officials, SCOM has failed to live up to its
advertising in almost every respect.
Now while SCOM was originally sold as a voluntary program,
we all now know that's not the case and actually probably never
was. Despite signed agreements and promises ensuring input from
State and local authorities, and an option for opting out of
the program if it fails to work for a given community, DHS now
intends to move forward in a mandatory fashion without any such
The program is also failing to live up to the promise that
it would focus on serious criminals. According to ICE's own
figures, over half of those identified and deported through
SCOM either had no criminal convictions or were convicted of
minor offenses, including driving without a license and other
traffic offenses. It includes witnesses, bystanders, even
victims, including even victims of domestic violence. And this
is damaging community policing efforts. Ask any police chief or
sheriff in the country what is his or her primary duty, and you
will get the same answer, which is keeping our streets safe
from serious criminals. To best accomplish that, they will
probably also tell you they need the full trust and cooperation
of the communities they serve. Community policing efforts are
widely accredited for declining crime rates over the last
Now as SCOM is currently being run by ICE, a growing number
of sheriffs and police chiefs believe the program is
distracting them from their primary function, diverting their
resources, and also damaging trust, especially in immigrant
communities. Without trust, crimes go unreported,
investigations go unsolved and decades of community policing
efforts are destroyed, which could leave us all less safe. Mark
Curran, the Republican chair of Lake County Illinois once
supported SCOM; he no longer does, because of the fear and
distrust the program is engendering in the communities he is
sworn to protect.
Expressing similar concerns are Salt Lake City police chief
Chris Burbank, San Antonio police chief Bill McManus, Austin
police chief Art Acevedo, former San Francisco Sheriff Michael
Hennessey, and Boston police commissioner Ed Davis. You can't
just dismiss their concerns by saying they don't believe in the
rule of law. I mean, these are law enforcement officers from
all over the country who are deeply committed to fighting crime
and protecting the communities they serve.
Experts are also worried, Mr. Chairman, about SCOM's
susceptibility to racial profiling. The program was advertised
as being immune from racial profiling because it runs
fingerprints on anyone who is arrested and booked, regardless
of race or nationality. But the real problem is that SCOM may
lead to pretextual arrests by officers who know that all
fingerprints will be checked against ICE databases. If an
officer chooses to issue tickets to White drivers without their
license, but arrest Latinos in the same situation, SCOM would
not be race neutral.
A recent report by U.C. Berkeley's Warren Institute found
that between 2008 and January 2010, 93 percent of those
identified through SCOM were Latino. Now some of this may have
do with the locations where the program is operating, but 93
percent is a staggering statistic because Latinos do not make
up 93 percent of the removable immigrants in this country.
Now, I know the Department is taking steps to ameliorate
these concerns. They have this advisory council. ICE has issued
guidelines to clarify enforcement priorities. And they are good
steps, but I think the hearing today is probably scheduled to
attack these small baby steps forward. I am sure we will hear
with displeasure the recent report of the SCOM task force which
included sheriffs and police chiefs. They had extensive field
hearings and consultations, and the report raises very serious
concerns about racial profiling. And it recommends that ICE
would hold off on enforcement action on minor traffic offense
as these offenses are most likely to be pretextual.
I think the systematic use of prosecutorial discretion is
absolutely necessary if the Department chooses to push forward
with nationwide Secure Communities by 2013. We have
dramatically increased enforcement resources over the last
decade, but the capacity in detention centers is about 300,000,
and we have a backlog of over 300,000 cases pending in
What that backlog means is there are some serious criminals
waiting, and our resources are being spent on things that are
minor in scope. So I am hopeful that we can learn from this
hearing. I would ask unanimous consent to put my full statement
in the record. I look forward to hearing from the witness and I
Mr. Gallegly. Without objection the full statement will be
part of the record of the hearing.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Lofgren follows:]
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee
on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
The title of this hearing is simple: ``Is Secure Communities
Keeping Our Communities Secure?'' I agree that is the central question
we should be asking at a hearing on S-Comm. Whether the program is a
success depends entirely on whether it is actually making our
communities safer and more secure.
Some of us in this Subcommittee may have opinions on this subject.
I'm sure DHS officials have their opinions. But none of us are experts.
If we truly want to know whether S-Comm is making communities safer,
shouldn't we ask those who are most entrusted with community safety?
Shouldn't we ask the law enforcement officials most responsible for
protecting and serving those very communities?
While some have been arguing about enforcement numbers,
prosecutorial discretion, and so-called administrative amnesty, law
enforcement officials all over this country have been speaking out and
asking for help. Sheriffs, police chiefs, and prosecutors--both
Democratic and Republican--have been increasingly vocalizing their
concerns that S-Comm, as currently designed, actually threatens public
safety and endangers the communities they are sworn to protect.
S-Comm was advertised to state and local law enforcement as a
simple, voluntary, and race-neutral information-sharing program focused
on catching the most serious criminals. As advertised, this program
made a good deal of sense.
In a world of limited enforcement resources, it is just common
sense to prioritize the removal of dangerous criminals. And an
electronic information-sharing program to find and catch such
individuals is laudable. This is especially so when the program is
implemented with the consent of and in coordination with state and
local law enforcement officials, who know best how to protect their
But according to a growing number of these state and local law
enforcement officials, S-Comm has failed to live up to its advertising
in almost every respect.
While S-Comm was originally sold as a voluntary program, we all
know now that is not the case and it never was. Despite signed
agreements and promises ensuring input from state and local authorities
and an option for opting out of the program if it failed to work for
the community, DHS now intends to move forward in a mandatory fashion
without any such input.
The program is also failing to live up to the promise that it would
focus on serious criminals. According to ICE's own figures, over half
of those identified and deported through S-Comm either had no criminal
convictions or were convicted of only minor offenses, including driving
without a license and other traffic offenses. It has swept in
witnesses, bystanders, and even victims--including even victims of
This is damaging community policing efforts. Ask any police chief
or sheriff in the country what his or her primary duty is and you'll
get the same answer--keeping our streets safe from serious criminals.
To best accomplish that, they will tell you that they need the full
trust and cooperation of the communities they serve. Community policing
efforts are widely credited for declining crime rates over the last
As S-Comm is currently being run by ICE, a growing number of
sheriffs and police chiefs believe the program is distracting them from
their primary functions, diverting their resources, and damaging trust
with immigrant communities. Without this trust, crimes go unreported,
investigations go unsolved, and decades of community policing efforts
are destroyed--leaving us all less safe.
Mark Curran, the Republican sheriff of Lake County, Illinois, once
supported S-Comm. He no longer does because of the fear and distrust
the program is engendering in the communities he is sworn to protect.
Expressing similar concerns are Salt Lake City police chief, Chris
Burbank; San Antonio police chief, Bill McManus; Austin police chief,
Art Acevedo; former San Francisco sheriff, Michael Hennessy; and Boston
Police Commissioner, Ed Davis. You cannot simply dismiss their concerns
by saying they do not believe in the rule of law. These are head law
enforcement officers from across the country who are deeply committed
to fighting crime and protecting the communities they serve.
Experts are also worried about S-Comm's susceptibility to racial
profiling. The program was advertised as being immune from racial
profiling because it runs fingerprints on anyone who is arrested and
booked, regardless of race or nationality. But this ignores the real
problem--that S-Comm may lead to pre-textual arrests by officers who
know that all fingerprints will be checked against ICE databases. If an
officer chooses to issue tickets to white drivers without their
license, but arrest Latino drivers in the same situation, S-Comm can
hardly be said to be race neutral.
A recent report by UC-Berkeley's Warren Institute found that
between 2008 and January 2010, a full 93% of those identified through
S-Comm were Latino. Some of this may have to do with the locations in
which the program was operating at that time, but 93% is still
staggering. Latinos do not make up anywhere near 93% of the removable
immigrants in this country.
To DHS's credit, the Department has taken steps to ameliorate some
of these concerns. DHS created the S-Comm Advisory Council Task Force
to study the program and make recommendations for its improvement. And
ICE issued updated guidance clarifying the country's enforcement
priorities and the use of prosecutorial discretion for non-priority
These are good steps. But they do not fully address the problems
just discussed. Much more clearly needs to be done to address law
Yet I suspect that the Majority scheduled this hearing today
specifically to attack these small, recent attempts to improve Secure
I am sure you will hear displeasure with the recent report of the
S-Comm Task Force, which included sheriffs and police chiefs from
across the country. Issued after extensive field hearings and
consultations, the report raises concerns about racial profiling and
community policing, and it recommends that ICE withhold enforcement
action on minor traffic offenses--those offenses most likely to be pre-
textual. The report also recommends that ICE better make use of
prosecutorial discretion in appropriate cases.
I am sure you will also hear continued attacks on the recent agency
guidance concerning enforcement priorities and prosecutorial
discretion. ICE just released additional guidance and announced pilot
programs in Denver and Baltimore for reviewing cases pending before the
This systemic use of prosecutorial discretion is absolutely
necessary if DHS chooses to push forward with nationwide Secure
Communities by 2013.
While Congress dramatically increased enforcement resources over
the last decade, it did not provide commensurate resources to DOJ's
immigration courts. This has resulted in detention centers filled
beyond capacity and a backlog of over 300,000 cases pending in our
This backlog means some serious criminals wait while resources are
spent on children, spouses of military families, and farmworkers. This
makes no sense and will only get worse as a nationwide Secure
Communities program potentially pours in hundreds of thousands of new
cases into our already overburdened system.
Given limited resources, DHS made the sensible decision to put
those who would do us harm--terrorists and serious criminals--first in
line for removal. This is simply sound law-enforcement. It is just
Yet the Majority, at numerous prior hearings, has decried the use
of prosecutorial discretion--widely accepted everywhere else in the law
enforcement world--as ``administrative amnesty.'' This charge is
premised on the ridiculous allegation that this Administration is
failing to enforce our nation's broken immigration laws.
Rather than make political attacks, we should actually discuss how
to fix S-Comm to address concerns from dedicated law enforcement
officials across the country. Failure to do so will lead a system
overwhelmed past the breaking point--and to communities that are
anything but secure.
Mr. Gallegly. With that, I would yield the gentleman the
Chairman of the full Committee Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Immigration and Custom
Enforcement's primary mission is to promote public safety
through criminal and civil enforcement of Federal immigration
laws. As part of ICE's mission, the agency attempts to identify
and remove illegal immigrants. Through Secure Communities, ICE
uses existing information sharing between the Department of
Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice to quickly
and accurately identify immigrants who are arrested for a crime
and booked into local law enforcement custody.
Under this program, the fingerprints of everyone arrested
and booked are checked against FBI criminal history records and
DHS immigration records to determine if immigration enforcement
Secure Communities is an important and effective
immigration law enforcement program. This program simply makes
sense. Who wouldn't want to deport a criminal immigrant?
But advocates for amnesty have raised opposition for one
reason: Security Communities works.
Unfortunately, Secure Communities has fallen prey to the
White House's demands that DHS bypass Congress and use
discretionary Executive Branch authorities to grant back-door
amnesty. While the program will be operational in all
jurisdictions by 2013, DHS has announced changes to Secure
Communities that could potentially allow millions of illegal
and criminal immigrants to avoid deportation and work in the
U.S., taking jobs away from Americans.
On August 22 I sent DHS a written request for information
about removable illegal and criminal immigrants brought to the
attention of ICE through Secure Communities on whom ICE elected
not to take action. The Committee needs to determine which of
these immigrants went on to commit additional crimes.
To date, I have not received the information requested
which forced the issuance of a subpoena. Apparently, the
Administration doesn't want the American public to know the
The Obama administration's refusal to fully enforce
immigration laws allows illegal immigrants to work legally in
the United States, forcing millions of unemployed Americans to
compete with them for scarce jobs.
The Obama administration remains on the wrong side of the
American people when it comes to illegal immigration. According
a recent poll, two-thirds of the American people want to see
our immigration laws enforced.
The Administration is putting illegal immigrants ahead of
the interest of American taxpayers and unemployed Americans.
The Administration should enforce all the laws on the books,
not just the ones it likes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I will yield back.
Mr. Gallegly. I thank the gentleman. We have a really
distinguished group of witnesses on our panel today. I want to
welcome you and say from the onset that your written statement
will be made a part of the record of the hearing in its
entirety. I would ask all of you to try to summarize your
verbal presentation in 5 minutes because of the time period we
have here today, and we would like to give everyone an
opportunity to interact with questions.
With that, I introduce our witnesses the first is Mr. Gary
Mead. Mr. Mead is executive associate director for Enforcement
and Removal Operations, U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement,
at the Department of Homeland Security. The enforcement removal
operation promotes public and safety and national security by
removing national security threats, high risk criminal aliens
and illegal aliens fugitives.
Prior to joining ICE in 2006, Mr. Mead spent his entire
Federal law enforcement career with the U.S. Marshal Service.
Mr. Mead holds a Master's degree and has received two senior
executive service presidential rank awards.
Our second witness is Ms. Julie Myers Wood. Ms. Wood is
president of the ICS Consulting and Immigration and Custom
Solutions, LLC. Prior to founding these companies, Ms. Wood's
served as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the U.S.
Immigration Customs Enforcement for nearly 3 years. Under her
leadership, the agency sent new enforcement records with
respect to immigration enforcement, export enforcement and
intellectual property rights. Ms. Wood earned her bachelors
degree at Baylor University, and J.D. from Cornell Law School.
Our third witness is Sheriff Sam Page. Sheriff Page is an
elected official and the chief law enforcement officer of
Rockingham County, North Carolina. Sheriff Page serves as the
2011, 2012 chairman of the North Carolina Sheriff's Association
and formally served as president of the North Carolina
Sheriff's Association in 2010. In addition, he has served the
National Sheriff's Association Border and Immigration Committee
since 2010. Following his high school graduation, Sheriff Page
served the United States Air Force, from 1975 to 1980, he is
also a graduate of the National Security Institute.
Our fourth witness, Mr. Arturo Venegas, is the former chief
of police for the City of Sacramento, California. He began his
law enforcement career in 1969 with the Fresno Police
Department and served in various ranks. After graduating high
school, he entered the military and served in the 101st
airborne division in the U.S. in Vietnam. Thank you for your
Mr. Venegas has a bachelor's degree from the University of
San Francisco, a Master's degree from California State
University, Polytechnic in Pomona and also a graduate of other
California posts accredited studies.
So with that, we will start where the Mr. Mead, welcome.
TESTIMONY OF GARY MEAD, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR,
ENFORCEMENT AND REMOVAL OPERATIONS, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND
CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND
Mr. Mead. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chairman Gallegly,
Ranking Member Lofgren and distinguished Members of the
Subcommittee, on behalf the Secretary Napolitano and Director
Morton, thank you for the opportunity to discuss Secure
Communities. Secure Communities is smart, effective immigration
enforcement, it provides real-time leads to the ICE criminal
alien program, greatly reducing the likelihood that criminal
aliens will be released from State and local custody back into
the community. Secure Communities is now active in more than
1,700 jurisdictions in 44 States with full deployment on track
Since its inception, more than 109,000 convicted criminal
aliens have been removed as a result of Secure Communities.
However, to fully understand Secure Communities, it needs to be
placed within the context of the ICE immigration enforcement
and priorities. Simply put, it is ICE's responsibility to
identify and remove from the country those persons unlawfully
present. Like any law enforcement agency, ICE has priorities to
focus the use of its resources. The ICE priorities are clear
and straightforward: They include criminal aliens and those who
pose a threat to our communities, immigration fugitives, repeat
immigration violators and recent border crossers.
However it is important to note that does not mean cases
outside the priorities will be routinely ignored. In fiscal
year 2011, ICE removed a record setting 397,000 unlawfully
present aliens, 90 percent of which fell into these priorities.
Secure Communities is a valuable tool in meeting these
priorities. 95 percent of the more than 149,000 persons removed
as a result of Secure Communities fell into one these 4
Last fiscal year alone, more than 58,000 of the record-
setting 216,000 criminal alien removals came from Secure
Communities leads. While Secure Communities is smart, effective
immigration enforcement, the ICE communications surrounding
Secure Communities has been anything but smart or effective.
In addition, some early deployment decisions have lead to
unintended, and at times, difficult-to-explain consequences.
Accordingly, I would like to take a minute to explain what
Secure Communities is and is not. It is the result of a fiscal
year 2008 congressional directive that ICE improved and
modernized its efforts to identify and remove criminal aliens.
It utilizes a 2002 Federal statute requiring the sharing of
information between Federal agencies.
It compares electronic criminal justice fingerprint data in
the possession of the FBI with fingerprint data in the
possession of DHS. When matches occur, they are reviewed on a
case-by-case basis by trained ICE officers who determine what,
if any, immigration action is appropriate. It is very important
to note that Secure Communities does not authorize local law
enforcement officers to enforce immigration laws or divert them
or their resources from their local law enforcement work. It
does not target victims of or witnesses to crime, particularly
in domestic violence cases. It does not promote racial
profiling. MOUs with the States were not required for
deployment. Other than to stop sending fingerprints of those
individuals arrested and booked on local crimes to the FBI, it
is not possible for States or local jurisdictions to opt out of
While the fundamentals of Secure Communities have remained
sound and unchanged since its inception, we have recognized a
number of areas for improvement, many of which were included in
the recent Secure Communities task force report. Some of the
more significant changes include the following: Creation of new
public ICE Web site, clearly explaining Secure Communities; the
issuance of updated guidance on prosecutorial discretion and
protections for victims of and witnesses to crime.
The DHS office of civil rights and civil liberties and ICE
have begun providing public and law enforcement outreach
materials, including the first in the series of DVDs;
implementation of a joint CRCL complaint process for those who
feel Secure Communities is in a particular jurisdiction is
being misused; the creation of a CRCL statistical early warning
tool, to help analyze and identify any potential of racial
profiling and jurisdictions where Secure Communities has been
activated; a soon-to-be released revised version of the ICE
detainer form which will inform local law enforcement to apply
the detainer only upon conviction for certain low level
We are also working to identify low-level misdemeanors that
would typically be outside ICE priorities and reviewing whether
it would be possible to provide a post conviction model to
In conclusion, I would like to restate that Secure
Communities is smart, effective immigration enforcement and a
valuable tool in achieving our overall priorities. Thank you
again for the opportunity to appear here today, and I would be
happy to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you very much, Mr. Mead.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Mead follows:]
Mr. Gallegly. Ms. Wood.
TESTIMONY OF JULIE MYERS WOOD, PRESIDENT,
ICS CONSULTING, LLC
Ms. Wood. Thank you, Chairman Gallegly, Ranking Member
Lofgren, distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. I
appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today about
the importance of Secure Communities and the ongoing challenges
faced by the agency in implementing the program. My name is
Julie Myers Wood, and I am the former assistant secretary at
As Gary Mead indicated, ICE has made some significant
strides in implementing Secure Communities and ensuring that
serious criminal aliens are being identified and deported. When
considering the remaining challenges the agency has, it is
important to remember how far the agency has come. When I first
arrived at ICE, we did not have a good handle on the population
of criminal aliens in jails and correctional institutions,
despite our obligation to monitor the criminal alien population
and reduce releases into society. In fact, we really a
patchwork approach. In some areas, ICE had full coverage and
every criminalized alien that was there was identified and
processed. In other areas, ICE had no presence at all, this was
We also did not make full use of technology to ensure that
we were processing criminal aliens efficiently. It was this
frustration, the frustration that ICE was failing to identify
criminal aliens and that ICE was often inefficient in
processing and apprehending criminal aliens that it did
identify that lead to the creation of the Secure Communities
As Gary noted, Congress played a critical role in urging
the agency to improve its efforts in this regard. A key goal of
Secure Communities was to create uniformity and to ensure that
all individuals who are arrested and convicted by local and
statement law enforcement would not simply blend back into
society without an encounter by ICE. It was to take away the
randomness of local programs that allowed releases to occur.
Making the program voluntary or allowing localities to opt in
would undermine a central goal of the program that Congress
The agency has made significant strides in implementing
Secure Communities, but some challenges do remain. In
particular, ICE has to continue to assess how to best utilize
its limited resources. Some of this can be done by
prioritization. However, it is critical for the agency to
aggressively use tools that increase efficiency in removal
proceedings without sacrificing fairness. For example, the
agency should increase use of the programs that places
individuals in immigration proceedings while they are serving
time in Federal or State institutions, known as the
institutional removal program. The agency also should increase
the use of voluntary stipulated removals and, where
appropriate, the use of the Rapid REPAT program, a program that
provides for conditional early release of qualifying non-
violent criminal aliens on the condition that they voluntarily
agree to their removal, they waive any appeal rights, and agree
to be deported. This saves money both on the State and local
side, and saves money on the Federal side while encouraging
aliens to abide by court orders.
While seeking to increase efficiency with the resources
currently allocated to the program, ICE must ensure it doesn't
reduce transparency or any fairness in the process. In this
area, there is some room for improvement by the government. In
particular, there could be enhanced education about how to
avoid racial profiling, in addition to the education that is
currently in place. Routine training could be implemented at
the time the Secure Communities is started in a particular
community. The solution to potential problems, however, must be
education, and it cannot simply be the fly spec every
underlying crime and arrest that subjects an immigrant to the
Secure Communities process.
In summary, the agency plans to insure that all facilities
are covered through Secure Communities by 2013 will go a long
way in keeping our communities secure. But in order to ensure
long-term success of the program, ICE must continue to address
resource efficiency and fairness issues and must have the
support of Congress in this regard. I thank you very much, and
I look forward to any questions that you have.
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you, Ms. Wood.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Wood follows:]
Mr. Gallegly. Sheriff Page.
TESTIMONY OF SAM PAGE, SHERIFF, CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER,
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, NC
Sheriff Page. To the Chairman of the House Judiciary
Committee and to Members, I give you greetings from Rockingham
County, North Carolina. I would like to thank you all for
allowing me to come before you and to give testimony and answer
I have talked to a lot of sheriffs over the past couple of
years across the country and in my State of North Carolina.
Sheriffs see an increase in criminal illegal alien activity
home based in our communities. Secure Communities--the question
was is Secure Communities keeping or communities safe? I
believe it does. And what I think is important about Secure
Communities is that it provides additional access to
information and the ability to communicate that information to
other law enforcement agencies, including ICE, who we partnered
Prior to 2009, we did not have all the access that we have
now. As of March 2011, all counties in North Carolina now have
the Secure Communities program, and we all participate in this
program because we see the importance. I am not going repeat
the main mission, because Mr. Mead has already addressed that,
but Secure Communities is very simple: A person first has to
get arrested, he ends up in a local jail facility. The
information is provided to us through interviews that the
person was not native born, we run him through the process of
the FBI and also through the immigration's fingerprint
database. We wait on hit confirmations or information that
comes back and we conduct interviews working with our ICE
agents. ICE makes the determination as has already been stated,
whether to detain or not. If the person has a bond and detainer
is not issued and the person posts bond, we release that
person. If a detainer is issued and he posts bond, the person
is released to ICE, they have 48 hours to pick them up.
Secure Communities was designed to take serious criminal
illegal aliens off the streets of our Nation. It was designed
to help identify criminal offenders in the U.S., and that
information assist in the deportation process. It gives local
police, sheriffs and jails a great law enforcement tool to
better identify those persons that have been arrested and are
I run a jail, the most important thing I can do as a
sheriff in North Carolina and a sheriff in America is to be
able to identify who is coming in my jail and who is being
released back into the community. I relate to my citizens and
sheriffs, and I would think anyone else as a sheriff or law
enforcement official would believe the same thing.
Since October 2010 to the present, successes using Secure
Communities, we have identified 58 criminal illegal aliens, of
those, ICE has issued 49 detainers; 36 of the 58 persons
arrested have been picked up by ICE; 25 of the 58 were charged
with DWI offenses, driving while impaired. Ten of the 58 have
reoffended and returned back to my community, by their own
arrest in my jurisdiction. As of today, none of the 10 have
been deported. Four of the 58 were charged with assault upon a
female, domestic related. One of the 58 was charged with
assault with deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury,
attempted murder, domestic.
I appreciate having Secure Communities in North Carolina
and having access to the immigration automatic fingerprint
system to improve our print identification process. I know this
law enforcement office has more information. The quicker we get
information, the more information we have, we have a better
chance of solving crimes in our communities.
The last fact about ICE is, a question in which someone
asked, how much does it cost? Well, first off, it didn't cost
us anything. Second of all, it is very limiting amount of
training, so I don't lose officers. And also, this program was
asked for by all the sheriffs in North Carolina because we
believe in it. And again, our primary response when we arrest
people and they bring them to our jail facility, is to try to
identify that person is to the best of our ability before that
person is released because that person may be going back out to
our communities to reoffend, we want to know what the person
is. Ladies and gentlemen I thank you and honor any questions
you may have.
[The prepared statement of Sheriff Page follows:]
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you very much, Sheriff.
TESTIMONY OF ARTURO VENEGAS, JR., PROJECT DIRECTOR, LAW
ENFORCEMENT ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVE
Mr. Venegas. Chairman Gallegly, Ranking Member Lofgren and
distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the
invitation to review the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Secured Community program with you. My name is Arturo Venegas.
I am the retired chief of police for the city of Sacramento. I
also believe I am probably the only American citizen veteran
that is also an immigrant.
I now direct the law enforcement engagement initiative, a
national effort to engage law enforcement executives across the
country in a sensible dialogue over immigration policies that
promote public safety and community cohesion.
This past summer, I served on the DHS task force on Secure
Communities until the very end of the process. I concluded that
the task force did not go far enough in recommending specific
enforceable changes to repair the damage that the program has
had on the relationship between immigrants and local police.
DHS initially introduced the Secure Communities program as
only targeting those with serious criminal convictions. As a
result, many of my law enforcement colleagues initially saw it
as positive alternative to the 287(g) program assuming that the
use of Federal database wouldn't allow for racial profiling.
However in 2010, advocates gain access to DHS statistics on who
exactly was being deported through the program, many of my
colleagues views began to show. The data showed that 60 percent
of the people deported through the program committed either low
level offenses, like traffic violation, or no offense at all.
These statistics led not only to more opposition from law
enforcement leaders, but from governors.
In May and June, the governors of Illinois, New York and
Massachusetts all formally requested removal of their States
from the program, citing, number 1, the deportation of non
criminals and its negative affect on community policing. And
number 2, the fact that ICE misled law enforcement by leading
them to believe that serious criminals were being deported.
In June, DHS created a task force to review Secure
Communities, and a letter to us, my colleagues from the
National Latino Peace Officers Association made three very
specific recommendations for changes to Secure Communities:
Number 1, tailor the program to focus only on individuals
convicted of serious crimes; number 2, clarify the limits of
police authority to enforce civil immigration laws; and number
3, create accountability mechanisms so these changes aren't
The recommendations contained in the task force report fell
short on these principles, and I chose not to sign on. In
Secure Communities in its current form, and even if the
recommendation of the task force are implemented, individuals
simply arrested for minor violations, including traffic
offenses, are still being put through the system. Immigrants
continue to fear that contact with the police could lead to
deportation. Crimes go unreported, leaving criminals free to
prey on others. Civil immigration enforcement continues to
trump crime control in our communities.
What is more, immigrants charged with more serious,
oftentimes violent, or even minor offenses, are never
convicted. We will find no protection whatsoever in the current
policy or the task force recommendations. It seems that we are
agreeing to turn the long-standing principle of innocent until
proven guilty on its head for certain groups of people. If you
are an immigrant and you are charged with a serious offense or
even a minor offense you are guilty until proven innocent and
you will be referred for deportation.
As an immigrant myself, and as an American citizen, I
cannot support that different standard. While I felt the
recommendations and the task force fell short, I did agree with
some of its premises, it elaborated on the need to use agency
resources more effectively through the long-standing practice
of prosecutorial discretion and express their support to DHS
and their recent announcement of this new policy. The fact that
this policy is now being politicized make no sense to me.
Prosecutorial discretion is a fundamental tool of all law
enforcement agencies. Police and prosecutors constantly use
their discretion to decide which cases to investigate, which to
prosecute and which to dismiss. They consider the factors like
seriousness of the criminal violation, any record of previous
violations, availability of investigative and prosecutorial
resources, strength of the evidence and the violations impact
on the community safety.
But as important as prosecutorial discretion is, the
Administration's new policy will not fix the problems inherent
in secured communities. The policy is only triggered after an
individual is put into the system, but every time someone is
stopped and arrested for a minor violation and detained,
because of their immigration status, the immigrant community
learns that police are to be feared. Immigrants need to know
that local police is there to help them, not deport them. Thank
you, again, for the opportunity to address you on this very
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you very much, Mr. Venegas.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Venegas follows:]
Mr. Gallegly. Mr. Mead, ICE has identified over 300,000
criminal immigrants through the Secure Communities whom it has
decided to release back on to our streets. Do you have any
concern that some of these released aliens will go on to commit
additional crimes? And how would you answer a victim of one of
these crimes who said you had it within your power to prevent
their attack, but opted not to do that?
Mr. Mead. Mr. Chairman, I am not familiar with the figure
that we released 300,000 criminal aliens back on to the street.
But I can tell you that we have removed more criminal aliens
last year than we have removed ever before. We are working at
almost maximum capacity in terms of total removals. And our
number one priority in terms of immigration enforcement is the
identification and removal of criminal aliens. It would be
extremely rare, extremely rare for us to knowingly let a
serious criminal offender walk loose in the community. It would
have to be some extraordinary circumstance probably beyond our
control to do that.
Mr. Gallegly. You would yield that many, you say you are
not familiar with the 300,000 number, but let's say it is only
286,000 or 192,000 that have been deemed to be illegally in the
United States, have committed some crime, maybe something as
simple as a third- or fourth-time drunk driving arrest, spousal
abuse, something like that. Why are they released back into the
public in a so-called catch-and-release situation?
Mr. Mead. Well, again I am not familiar with any catch-and-
release situation that may exist. Whether it is Secure
Communities or the criminal alien program, we are doing
everything possible to identify----
Mr. Gallegly. Okay, but----
Mr. Mead [continuing]. Detain, and remove criminal aliens.
Mr. Gallegly. So you are not familiar with any individual,
criminal alien that has been released back into the community
prior to a deport hearing?
Mr. Mead. As I said, there certainly could be circumstances
like that, you could have a legal permanent resident who has
been charged with a crime, not convicted of that crime----
Mr. Gallegly. But a legal----
Mr. Mead [continuing]. Not subject to removal.
Mr. Gallegly. With all due respect, a legal, a person who
has legal status is not an illegal immigrant. I am talking
about people that are illegally in the country that have been
identified through this program, the IDENT program, Secured
Communities, however you want to refer to it, that have been
turned over to your custody within, I believe as the Sheriff
said, 48 hours or the time that you are notified. And you are
not aware of any that have just been released back into
community? I am not talking about legal residents, I am talking
about illegal aliens. You know of no case where that has
happened? My numbers show at least 300,000, but let's say--you
can go on record as saying you don't know of any policy that
would allow this to happen for an illegal; is that correct?
Mr. Mead. No, what I am saying is I wasn't familiar with
your number. I said it is not our policy to release back into
the community dangerous criminal aliens.
Mr. Gallegly. How do you determine whether they are
dangerous? Let's say hypothetically, a second drunk driving
arrest, would that be considered dangerous?
Mr. Mead. A first drunk driving arrest would be considered
dangerous. Just looking at Secure Communities statistics since
its inception, ICE removed over 16,000 DUIs last year, we
removed 35,000 DUI cases in the United States so a first case
is very serious to us.
Mr. Gallegly. Based on that, it would be safe to say that
it is your understanding that someone direct arrested for a
drunk driving arrest, driving under the influence and then
turned over into your custody pending a hearing would not be
Mr. Mead. It is possible they could be granted bond----
Mr. Gallegly. Bond, would that mean OR?
Mr. Mead. No, it would be bond, a cash bond, it could be
they are put on an alternative to detention.
Mr. Gallegly. I appreciate your answer.
Let me go quickly to the sheriff. Sheriff, you mentioned in
your testimony that there is relatively no expense to the
sheriff's department for this program, and added expense to the
local jurisdiction; is that correct?
Sheriff Page. Yes, sir. I just want to let you know----
Mr. Gallegly. Do you find that using Secure Communities is
difficult or onerous on the part of your deputies?
Sheriff Page. No, sir I have a few staff members that are
trying to do the data check.
Mr. Gallegly. So it hasn't put an added burden on your
ability to do day-to-day law enforcement? In fact, you would
say it is a benefit?
Sheriff Page. No, sir, I think it has actually complemented
our work to be able to better identify criminally-charged
illegal aliens in our jail.
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you very much, Sheriff. The gentlelady
Ms. Lofgren. Before asking my questions, I would like to
ask unanimous consent to enter some items into the record; a
November 17 letter from 32 Members of Congress to the President
calling for an end of Secure Communities, a November 17 letter
from the members of the Secure Communities task force
expressing support for prosecutorial discretion; a letter from
the New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera; a series of letters
and statements prepared for today's hearing by over 250
organizations, including 44 organizations serving victims of
domestic violence; 50 faith-based organizations and leaders;
over 80 civil rights, human rights and immigrant advocacy
groups; over 75 LBGT organizations; and a sign-on letter by 43
national, State and local organizations working with survivors
of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Mr. Gallegly. Without objection.
[The information referred to is included in the Appendix.]
Mr. Gallegly. Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Ms. Lofgren. I don't get to ask my questions?
Mr. Gallegly. Oh, oh.
Ms. Lofgren. That was a unanimous consent request to put it
in the record.
Mr. Gallegly. I stand corrected. With all due respect, I
will yield now to the gentlelady for her 5 minutes.
Ms. Lofgren. I thank you very much.
Mr. Gallegly. You can't blame me for trying.
Ms. Lofgren. I would blame myself for letting you succeed.
I want to thank all of the witnesses for being here, and
especially Mr. Venegas, you not only have a background in law
enforcement, but you served on this task force. And sometimes I
think it is important before we ask questions to establish what
we do agree on. And I think everybody who I have talked to who
has concerns about this program doesn't have a concern about
having violent, dangerous criminals removed.
So actually, there is more commonality here than we might
expect. Where we get into trouble is when it is somebody who
hasn't committed an offense, or they are pulled over for a
faulty taillight and the impact that has on policing generally.
I am wondering, one of the comments, Sheriff Mark Curran
who said he once supported the Secure Communities, this is his
quote, he said ``Fear is running through communities right now,
the squad car rounds the corner, and you will see people scram,
it is not because they are engaged in criminal activity
necessarily, it is because they have this perception that they
are illegal or they know somebody who might be undocumented,
and they don't want to have anything to do with law
enforcement,'' and that this has created problems for them in
terms of getting people to call 911 or being willing to be
witnesses, or if you are a victim of domestic violence, to call
for help. What would be necessary? This is not only what we are
doing, but the perception of what we are doing. What do you
think would be necessary to get this program back on the right
Mr. Venegas. Thank you, Congresswoman. Your first point,
and I think it is an absolutely important one that needs to be
said again. And I have been fortunate to literally have
traveled now all four corners of our great country. I have not
been in a single immigrant community or any community at all
where they are saying, hey, it is okay to have a burglar or
robber or rapist living next to me. Even the immigrant
communities are saying get those people out of here, that's it.
And that is the way the program was initially sold. I think the
good sheriff from Illinois was talking about, and with all due
respect to my colleagues, they are in a real pickle. But the
fact of the matter is, is that when you activate a county, as
an example, when you activate, when they did activate Los
Angeles County, nobody asked the 50 or 60 other law enforcement
agencies that booked into the jail whether they wanted to
participate in Secure Communities or not, they got activated de
And the other part that is very important, I think, is that
a lot of these communities, those chiefs had been working on
community policing and recognizing that relationships are
absolutely essential, not only for public safety and the
neighborhoods and community, but for the country. The reality
is, is that, you know, as a Nation we grew our own homegrown
idiots, and the information that is very important to us and
good public safety and national security often comes from the
local officers and their relationships that they have with
Whenever you start impacting the trust between the law
enforcement agency and the communities they served at the
neighborhood and that level, you start impacting good policing
for the entire community and put the Nation at risk in national
security. And I think that's what the sheriff was talking
about. I don't think that is just in Illinois, I think that is
true in all of the communities that really are saying, hey,
what are we doing? If this was done as it was initially
intended with the serious felons, nobody would be have any
problems at all.
Ms. Lofgren. Mr. Mead, let me ask you a question, because
in California, there is a group called The Partnership to End
Domestic Violence. It is a statewide coalition of domestic
violence shelters and service providers. And they have
contacted me and this is what they have said: ``Many of the
immigrant domestic violence and sexual assault survivors we now
see are too afraid to report the crimes they have suffered to
law enforcement, and many others are too afraid to even seek
services.'' They have said despite the Administration's efforts
to ameliorate this program through an ICE memorandum on
prosecutorial discretion, it is not clear how effectively that
goal is being implemented, and the fears that are out there
have impacted accessing the judicial system that this is a
So here is the question I have for you: Congress has, on a
bipartisan basis, decided that if you are a victim of domestic
violence we want you to complain. As a matter of fact, we have
a special visa, so if you are a victim of domestic violence you
can have access to that because we think it is better to do
that than to have dead victims. And yet, this policy apparently
is having an adverse impact on that national goal.
What can we do? What is the agency prepared to do to make
sure that many domestic violence victims, or victims of human
trafficking are assured that they can go ahead and call 911 and
not end up in a deportation proceeding?
Mr. Mead. First of all, we agree completely that victims of
domestic violence should not be deterred in any way from coming
Ms. Lofgren. Unfortunately, several of them have been
deported for doing that.
Mr. Mead. I would say, an immediate response to that, we
have not found a single case where a victim of domestic
violence has been removed.
Ms. Lofgren. I have cases, I will provide them to you.
Mr. Mead. And we would be happy to get that information
from you so we can run it down, because we have not been able
to find anyone but going back to your original question.
Ms. Lofgren. Here is the point, it has been reported to me
by law enforcement and it has been in the newspaper, so we can
do that off camera. The issue is if I call 911, my kid is going
to get deported, therefore I better risk being beaten up or
trafficked in a sexual manner. How do we overcome that if what
you are saying----
Mr. Mead. A couple of things have already started, one
Director Morton issued, and it is on our Web site, his policy
on victims of crime, and particularly victims of domestic
violence stating clearly it is not our policy to use the
immigration laws to adversely affect those people and deter
them from reporting the crimes.
We have been getting information out to local law
enforcement about the new visas that you are talking about and
other protections we can afford victims of domestic violence
using prosecutorial discretion. We have been in California
doing public roundtables on this, and whenever we have offered
to come out again and meet with any community group that would
be interested in hearing more about our program and policies
because it is not our policy to use immigration law to remove
victims of domestic violence.
Ms. Lofgren. Let me just ask that----
Mr. Gallegly. The time of the gentlelady--just so you know,
the lights are about 4 minutes behind now.
Ms. Lofgren. Then I will ask unanimous consent for 30
Mr. Gallegly. Without objection, I will yield the
Ms. Lofgren. To say to Mr. Mead, I certainly do not
challenge your sincerity, but this was just received, this is
the reputable group in California and it is not working. So we
need to do something more if we are actually going to get the
victims of crime to do what we hope they can do which is to be
safe. And I thank the Chairman for the additional time.
Mr. Gallegly. Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Mead, thank you for
being here today. I understand you are recovering from the flu,
so thank you for making an effort to testify.
What information today does ICE compile on those
individuals who have almost 300,000 individuals who have been
released into our communities that the Administration has
refused to detain.
Mr. Mead. Well, Mr. Chairman, we have a lot of information
on those people that we have taken action on, including those
that we have released on bond or orders of supervision. We can
tell you where they were arrested, why they were arrested, and
what form of----
Mr. Smith. Does ICE have information in hand that would
enable those of us who are interested to determine whether the
individuals released have committed additional crimes? I am not
talking about information you might get from the FBI, but do
you have all of the information in hand that the FBI would need
to determine whether they have committed additional crimes.
Mr. Mead. I am not sure what information the FBI would
need. We have the sort of information that you are talking
about. There is a group of people, however, where we have had
some contact with them, but not taken an action where we don't
have as complete information.
Mr. Smith. What percentage of the whole would that be?
Mr. Mead. If we are talking about the universe of IDENT
matches that came out of Secure Communities it could be, and
this is just a rough guess, 25, 30 percent, but I can't----
Mr. Smith. Say approximately three-quarters of the
individuals who have been released, you do have that adequate
Mr. Mead. We have the information that I mentioned.
Mr. Smith. As you probably know, I was once told by the
staff at ICE what you just told me that they had the
information, they were going to give it to us in the next day
or 2, and suddenly, ICE decided not to give us that
information. Sooner or later we will get it, that is why we had
to issue the subpoena.
Do you know who would have made the decision, or changed
their mind about not giving us that information?
Mr. Mead. I am not aware that a decision has been made not
to give you the information.
Mr. Smith. It is pretty obvious that we haven't received
it, so somebody made that decision.
Mr. Mead. We are working with two issues with the
Department: One is how to provide information that isn't under
the control of the FBI, and we are in dialogue with the FBI on
that; and how do we drill down into that group of cases where
we don't have good information.
Mr. Smith. On the cases that you do, the 75 percent, are
you confident I am going to get that information in the near
Mr. Mead. I am confident that we will supply the
information that you have requested.
Mr. Smith. Okay, that is good news and I welcome that,
thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gallegly. Thank you Mr. Smith. Mr. King.--- Oh, I am
sorry. Ms. Waters came in.
The gentlelady from California.
Ms. Waters. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I did not
have time to review the U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement document here, the statement of Mr. Gary Mead, but
I just looked it over here. Mr. Mead, reading this, it sounds
as if you were taken into consideration concerns about Secure
Communities, and that you have done everything--done a lot of
things to address those concerns, even to the point of training
and videos, and on and on and on. Why then, do we still have so
many complaints about mistakes that are made? And why do we
have such concentration on one group of immigrant Latinos? What
happens with people from Kosovo and other places that are here
Mr. Mead. Well, Congresswoman, first of all, we take all of
the complaints seriously, and as you said, we tried to address
those that we felt we could address. I can tell you that of the
1,700 jurisdictions that we have active and the 44 States, the
number of concerns are relatively small, that notwithstanding,
as I said, we have taken them seriously and tried to address
them. As far as enforcing the immigration laws, we don't do
that in any predetermined way in terms of nationality. We
enforce the laws equally. We don't racially profile, we don't
have targets based on countries of origin. And the end results
are what they are.
Ms. Waters. So what lead to the overwhelming arrest of
Latinos, I understand that 93 percent of individuals arrested
through the program are Latinos.
Mr. Mead. Again, it is not as a result of racial profiling
or country of origin. We have enforcement programs that look
for those persons that are here unlawfully and we apply the law
equally to them.
Ms. Waters. Mr. Venegas, in your testimony you stated that
you made three recommendations to DHS task force on Secure
Communities. Can you elaborate on those recommendations and
explain why you believe they would make the program more
Mr. Venegas. Absolutely. Thank you, Congresswoman. Let me--
number one was to tailor the focus of the individuals convicted
on serious crimes. That was the original intent of the program,
and I don't think any of the communities across the country
would have any problems with having a murderer, a rapist, a
serious offender, action taken. And in fact, the chiefs and
sheriffs of this country have said before you do any
deportation, also make sure that they are brought before our
systems of justice and that they are held accountable, number
one. The clarification of the police authority to enforce civil
immigration, your question right now to Mr. Mead, I think it
has been a problem with DHS-ICE for a long time that they
failed to recognize that it is a but-for scenario. And but-for
to the program, the immigration enforcement that has taken
place at the local levels now, the numbers that you listed, and
very correctly, would not be in place.
The reality is that through the creation of Secure
Communities nationwide, we have empowered individuals in our
agencies, and I assure you, my colleagues here have fired some
of those people, that have allowed their biases or their
bigotry to come into play, and so they target individuals that
normally would not be but-for to this program. It didn't exist
with 287(g). That that they tried to create nationwide only
ended up with 60 agencies actually participating, so now trying
to do it nationally.
The other part is the creation of accountability
mechanisms. DHS refuses to accept the fact that they have an
obligation for the enforcement that begins actually at the
point of contact and eventually puts people into their system.
Or to the fact that it also involves the FBI. And a recognition
that, truly, I think it was the good intent of Congress that
said back then agencies should talk to each other. But the
reality is is that no accountability measures have been put in
place since the inception of this program, not only for the
Federal agencies and how they work in the field, but the local
law enforcement agencies that are now active participants
either by the fact that they want to or de facto.
Mr. Gallegly. The time of the gentlelady is expired. Mr.
Ms. Waters. Mr. Chairman, I have two submissions if this
would be the proper time to do them. I ask unanimous consent
that this letter to Governor Jerry Brown of California dated
January 10, 2011 be included in the record. I also ask
unanimous consent that a letter from the Coalition for Humane
Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, that is CHIRLA, express some
serious concerns with the Secure Communities program such as
lack of transparency, et cetera, also be included.
Mr. Gallegly. Without objection.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. Gallegly. Mr. King.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the witnesses. I
just first note Mr. Venegas that you announced in your
testimony you are likely the only immigrant on the panel. And I
wonder if you could tell us how it was you were inspired to
come to the United States?
Mr. Venegas. My mother actually was an American citizen and
she was kidnapped. It is quite a long story. Do you have time
for a book?
Mr. King. Well, I would just like to have the short
Mr. Venegas. A very short version. My mother actually was
kidnapped by my grandfather and taken back to Mexico where he
was from. Eventually he was killed and she was raised by an
aunt. Over time, she connected with her mother who was a
resident in Ventura County, California. And her desire was for
us to come back to the United States and actually filed
immigration papers in Walahra at the consulate where she found
a very compassionate U.S. employee at the embassy. And through
the process we were able to come to the United States and
resided initially in Santa Maria, California.
Mr. King. Can you just tell us what year and what visa
then, Mr. Venegas?
Mr. Venegas. That was 1958. I couldn't tell you the name of
the visa or whatever.
Mr. King. Well, thank you.
Mr. Venegas. But I am an American citizen now, Mr. King.
Mr. King. I congratulate you.
Mr. Venegas. Actually, I became an American citizen after I
served in Vietnam.
Mr. King. I thank you. And that is the answer to my
question. I appreciate that. I have another question for you,
and that is the number of times I heard at least a tonal
amendment about racial profiling. Can you point to any statute
that prohibits racial profiling?
Mr. Venegas. There is statutes all over that prohibit
racial profiling, however, I will tell you this, Mr. King.
Mr. King. Could you just point to one for this panel?
Mr. Venegas. That prohibits racial profiling?
Mr. King. Yes. Is there a Federal statute that prohibits
Mr. Venegas. Yeah, the Civil Rights Act.
Mr. King. Actually, I don't think when they wrote the Civil
Rights Act that they even knew what racial profiling was, Mr.
Mr. Venegas. And the Fourth and Fifth Amendments in the
United States Constitution prohibits racial profiling and
discrimination. And our oath of office.
Mr. King. I have the floor now. Thank you. I looked at your
testimony, and the number I wanted to get as a clarification,
that 60 percent of those deported committed either low level or
no violations at all, that basis, what universe is that that
you are speaking to? I noticed that wasn't in your written
testimony, so could you tell us where that fact comes from, or
Mr. Venegas. Those were the facts actually that were taken
out of the ICE's Web page. If you go into ICE they have all of
their numbers. I have to tell you this about them, they have a
lot of stuff that is on for their record.
Mr. King. And a universe of that is at the United States of
America? Is it a State, a county, how broad a universe is that?
Mr. Venegas. No, the United States of America.
Mr. King. Okay. Thank you. I wanted to clarify that. And I
heard your ask on that. And I would ask you if 100 percent of
those that were deported had committed no crime, no serious
crime, no crime at all, and not even a misdemeanor, would that
Mr. Venegas. First of all, yes, absolutely.
Mr. King. And why?
Mr. Venegas. But I don't think that my point or anybody's
point is that 100 percent of those deported have not committed
any offense. I think--and I think I have said it for the record
here and a number of places that the folks, and some of them
have committed very serious offenses, number one, they should
be held accountable at the local level or State; and then two,
action should be taken by ICE.
Mr. King. Thank you. And three was create accountability.
Are you aware of how many arrests there have been of criminal
aliens in the United States for the purpose--the number of
arrests of criminal aliens in the United States for homicide?
Mr. Venegas. I do not have the exact number.
Mr. King. I would point your attention that that would be a
study that was done and completed in March of this year 2011 by
a GAO study that was commissioned by this panel. And that
number is 25,064. And so I would just make this point, that
when we deport people after the crime, there are already
victims to crime, and I am concerned about that tone. I would
turn my direction over to Ms. Wood, whom I welcome back.
Mr. Venegas. May I respond to that?
Mr. King. I thank you for your testimony. I didn't have a
question. But Ms. Wood, you stated that you wanted to ensure
that criminal aliens are identified and deported. Was that a
selected term, ``criminal aliens,'' or would that also include
those who came into the United States who were not guilty of a
Ms. Wood. That also were not--are you talking about lawful
permanent residents whose crimes made them subject to removal?
Mr. King. Well, I am really talking about those who
overstayed their visa who would be guilty of a serious
Ms. Wood. No, I think I was including kind of everyone
within that category, all individuals who would be amenable to
Mr. King. Thank you. I just wanted to clarify. And I
appreciate that. I knew that precision would come from you. Mr.
Mead, is there anything in the policy of Secure Communities
that address the sanctuary cities that have a policy that
refuses to cooperate?
Mr. Mead. Not specifically. Again, it is information
sharing as a result of fingerprint submission. So whether or
not a city chooses to honor our detainers is really not a
subject for Secure Communities. If the jurisdiction is
activated in Secure Communities, their prints come to us and we
are able to do the matching against our databases.
Mr. King. Thank you. And then in conclusion, can you point
to any existing statute that prohibits racial profiling?
Mr. Mead. I can't answer that question.
Mr. King. Could you, Ms. Wood?
Ms. Wood. No. I am aware obviously of the DOJ guidelines
against racial profiling. And they may refer to something.
Mr. King. A guideline as far up the ladder as we go.
Congress has never acted on racial profiling.
Ms. Wood. That is right. But ICE does use those guidelines
in training, and that is what I would point the panel to.
Mr. King. No objection, just clarifying. And I think,
Sheriff, you were leaning ahead. Did you have anything you
wanted to add to that before I yield back?
Sheriff Page. Well, you are talking about the racial
profiling. I have got to say that we have six sheriff offices
in the State of North Carolina that participate in 287(g), and
all 100 in Secure Communities. But the problem that we are
seeing with the ICE side, if I can just go to this real quick,
is that we helped identify criminal illegal aliens using our
local resources according to the ICE study goals and we do
everything they ask us to do by the book, but then the Justice
Department comes down on us with lawsuits that are unfounded,
troublesome, and ICE doesn't really step up to help us. We are
following the program, we are following the rules and we are
Mr. King. We needed to hear that, Sheriff.
Ms. Wood. And one of the things, I do want to point out
regarding Secure Communities is that reviewing everyone
actually reduces a potential for racial profiling. When I was
at ICE, sometimes we would have trouble with bad actors or
individuals in State and local law enforcement that would act
on their own and would go ahead and call up ICE and do
something kind of inappropriate. Secure Communities ensures
that everyone who comes into the system, no matter your color,
how you speak, anything else, is screened through the program.
And so I do think that, with education, can help reduce it.
Ms. Lofgren. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. Gallegly. The time of the gentleman is expired.
Mr. King. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. Gallegly. The gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Let me thank the--and I would be happy in
just a moment if the Chairman would indulge me as he did Mr.
King, the gentlelady has a point. But let me thank the Ranking
Member and the Chairman for this very important hearing. Let me
be very clear that Congress'share of come and go, and I think
you have seen a delineation of some on this panel who are
championing the Secure Communities and some that may have
reasonable and rational questions. One thing I think that none
of us will disagree with is that we support our local law
enforcement, Members of Congress fight for resources to come to
the local community.
May I just make a humorous comment, and that is, sometimes
when we are cutting the ribbon or passing a check, the Congress
people are the potted plants and you local guys are banging
your chest. But that is all right. We are servants and we don't
mind that. I enjoy, and I know my colleagues enjoy doing that.
We want to make things work for you, but I do want to make it
very clear that one person's championing of the sledge hammer
approach is here today and gone tomorrow. The responsibility
that we have is to do the right thing. And if it takes making
the laws more clarified, then we should do that. And so I am
going to pose my questions to Mr. Mead and Mr. Venegas.
Mr. Venegas. Venegas.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Venegas. Thank you so very much. I was
going French and I should have gone another direction from
California. But I am just teasing you. Thank you for clarifying
Mr. Mead, let me try to find out what kind of people are
your field folk focusing on under the Enforcement Removal of
Operations for the U.S. Immigration and Customs, U.S.
Department of Homeland Security?
Mr. Mead. Well, as I said earlier in my testimony, we focus
on four key priorities, criminal aliens, fugitives, these are
people who have been ordered removed from the country and have
not departed, repeat immigration violators and recent border
crossers. Those are our highest priorities. And last year of
the 397,000 people that we removed, 90 percent of those
removals fell into one of those four categories.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Do you hold to racial profiling, is that
how you go and find the individuals that you deport?
Mr. Mead. I am sorry?
Ms. Jackson Lee. Do you adhere to, do you seek out--your
framework, is it about racial profiling? Do you go and pick out
brown people and others that may look like they shouldn't be
here, is that how you do it?
Mr. Mead. Absolutely not.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Is it fact-based, is it fact-based?
Mr. Mead. Absolutely.
Ms. Jackson Lee. All right. Then let me ask my first
question. Why does the Department of Homeland Security refuse
to mandate data collection with racial profiling related
indicators by State and local enforcement as a precondition for
participating in 287(g) Secure Communities and criminal alien
Mr. Mead. We expect that any 287(g) partner follow the
guidelines. Where we get indications that there may be problems
with how they are applying the program investigations ensue and
we aggressively monitor them.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Let me tell you as someone who has the
greatest respect for ICE officers, we work with them all the
time, we tout the work they do, we are saddened by the loss
that was experienced this last year, voluntary we think they
are doing is one thing, but mandating and determining whether
or not there is racial profiling is another. I am going to make
an official request that you should carry back to the
leadership to answer, and I certainly welcome that response to
this Committee why it is not mandated. The confusion I hear the
sheriff caring for is he needs to know what to do. And I am
going to be offended by his deputies who are racially
profiling. If it was clear that that is unacceptable he would
not do it. Let me move quickly.
So I am making that official request for a mandate on data
collection. I want to move to the gentleman from California. We
just came out of Alabama on H.B. 56. Are you familiar with that
Mr. Venegas. Yes, ma'am.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Can you craft the failures of the Secure
Communities and by extension, your understanding of H.B. 56.
That is obviously the extreme, people being thrown out of their
apartments, people not getting light bills and various other
necessities, can't go to school. What are you seeing? This is a
fair announcement that the ICE has said, people who are
frequent and criminal. But you are seeing more, are you not?
Mr. Venegas. Absolutely. I think what, you know, and with
all due respect to the elected officials in Alabama and other
States, the reality is the impact of their legislation has
affected communities in a wide swath that is negatively
impacting their States, not only people and families and lives,
their educational systems, their health systems and every
aspect of the State of Alabama. With that, I would suggest to
you that Secure Communities is doing precisely that across the
One of the law enforcement leaders in the task force made
this analogy which, to me, very honestly, was ludicrous, and
that was we all agreed that Secure Communities was broken and
that something needed to be done. He said, you know, this is
like an airplane that is flying and sometimes you got to fix
the plane while it is on the air. Ladies and gentlemen, I fly a
lot. I trust my pilot to fly the plane. I don't know that he or
she is a hell of a good mechanic. And I would suggest to you
that Secure Communities is exactly in the same boat.
Mr. Gallegly. The time of the gentlelady is expired. I
would yield for the purpose of unanimous consent to Mr. King.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a unanimous
consent request to introduce into the record a copy of an
article in the Daily Herald titled ``Elgin sex offender facing
his third burglary charge skips bail.'' This document
identifies the consequences of sanctuary cities in the face of
this discussion. I ask unanimous consent to enter it into the
Mr. Gallegly. Without objection that will be the order.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. Gallegly. I want to thank all of our witnesses today.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, a parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. Gallegly. The lady will state her parliamentary
Ms. Jackson Lee. Members have the privilege of submitting
commentary into the record. Is it relevant to inquire what
answer or what is the premise of his submission to the record?
Was he answering a Member's questioning or was he responding to
a witness' point that was made?
Mr. Gallegly. If the gentleman would like to expand on
his--I don't necessarily see that that is a requirement, but if
it would make the gentlelady feel a little more at ease, I
would give the gentleman an opportunity to respond.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the gentlelady
from Texas for the inquiry. This addresses a subject matter
that we discussed here in this hearing with regard to the
effect of sanctuary cities. And I did ask the specific
question, does that change the policy with Secure Communities?
And this article demonstrates how an individual who had twice
been arrested for serious felonies before was released because
of a city ordinance that rather than to be released--rather
than to be held for ICE. The city ordinance was a sanctuary
city-city ordinance. He was released into the community and he
broke into a home with a young lady in it and robbed her, and
now he is on the loose. So this is the kind of thing that
illustrates, I think, the crimes that we could prevent if we
have effective Secure Communities.
Ms. Lofgren. Reserving the right to object, so I can say
Mr. Gallegly. I would yield to the gentlelady.
Ms. Lofgren. Because I will not object. We have a very
expansive--when I chaired the Committee and the current
Chairman has a very expansive view toward putting things in the
record, and I think that is the appropriate approach.
Mr. Gallegly. I think that the record would show that we
have been pretty liberal----
Ms. Lofgren. I agree.
Mr. Gallegly [continuing]. With everyone's request.
Mr. King. Mr. Chairman, I would like to object to being
Ms. Lofgren. I would like to note however, again reserving
the right to object, I could put in a dozen cases of people who
were pulled over because of a taillight or because they had
their high beams on and they were arrested because they didn't
have a license because they were undocumented or because they
were Latino, which is why we have 93 percent of the people
removed are Latino does not reflect the demographics. And with
that, I lift my reservation.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, may I reserve the right to
Mr. Gallegly. You certainly have the right.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I will not
object. Following the gentlelady's comment, I wanted to say to
Mr. King I was not objecting to the Chairman's very right order
of allowing you to submit. I wanted to clarify that we were not
indicting ICE because I just had ICE list all the bad guys they
try and get, and that is a bad guy that you would certainly be
in line to find.
And I just wanted to be clear that you weren't putting it
in to say that ICE had not done their job. I don't know about
sanctuary cities. I think we need to find common ground. But I
know that ICE is carrying on their duties as they should.
Mr. King. If the gentlelady would yield.
Mr. Gallegly. I will allow the gentleman from Iowa to
respond and then we will move on.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I thank the Chairman.
Mr. King. I would just state that the gentlelady from Texas
and I don't disagree with the intent of this discussion, in
that this article that I have introduced into the record
actually clarifies that ICE wanted to hold them and respond but
the city ordinance directed them to release. So I would yield
Mr. Gallegly. The time of the gentleman has expired. Again,
I would like to thank the witnesses again, not only for your
testimony, but for listening to our discussion up here on
whether or not we should enter things into the record. Without
objection, all Members will have 5 legislative days to submit
to the Chair additional written questions for the witnesses
which we will forward to the witnesses to respond as promptly
as you will be able to get answers back to us so that we make
them a part of the record of the hearing. And without objection
all Members will have 5 legislative days to submit any
additional materials for inclusion into the record.
Again, thank you all for your participation today, and even
more for the service that you provide every day. Thank you. The
Subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in
Congress from the State of Texas, and Chairman, Committee on the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) primary mission is to
promote public safety through criminal and civil enforcement of federal
As part of ICE's mission, the agency attempts to identify and
remove illegal immigrants. Through Secure Communities, ICE uses
existing information sharing between the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to quickly and
accurately identify immigrants who are arrested for a crime and booked
into local law enforcement custody.
Under this program, the fingerprints of everyone arrested and
booked are checked against FBI criminal history records and DHS
immigration records to determine if immigration enforcement action is
Secure Communities is an important and effective immigration law
enforcement program. This program simply makes sense. Who wouldn't want
to deport a criminal immigrant? But advocates for amnesty have raised
opposition for one reason and one reason alone: Secure Communities
Unfortunately, Secure Communities has fallen prey to the White
House's demands that DHS bypass Congress and use discretionary
Executive Branch authorities to grant back-door amnesty. While the
program will be operational in all jurisdictions by 2013, DHS has
announced ``changes'' to Secure Communities that could potentially
allow millions of illegal and criminal immigrants to avoid deportation
and work in the U.S, taking jobs away from Americans.
On August 22, 2011, I sent DHS a written request for information
about removable illegal and criminal immigrants brought to the
attention of ICE through Secure Communities on whom ICE elected not to
take action. The Committee needs to determine which of these immigrants
went on to commit additional crimes.
To date, I have not received the information requested, which
forced the issuance of a subpoena. Apparently, the administration
doesn't want the American public to know what the facts are.
The Obama administration's refusal to fully enforce immigration
laws allows illegal immigrants to work legally in the United States,
forcing millions of unemployed Americans to compete with them for
The Obama administration remains on the wrong side of the American
people when it comes to illegal immigration. According to a recent
poll, two-thirds of the American people want to see our immigration
The administration is putting illegal immigrants ahead of the
interests of American taxpayers and unemployed Americans. The
administration should enforce all the laws on the books, not just the
ones it likes.
Material submitted by the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee
on Immigration Policy and Enforcement