New Obama Budget Expands Secure Communities Program

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WASHINGTON—Despite numerous budget cuts in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, resources to control and reduce illegal immigration experienced some gains. The proposed budget includes an expansion of Secure Communities to 97 percent of jurisdictions nationwide in 2012. The Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), checks the fingerprints of those arrested against an ICE database to determine their immigration status.

It is currently in effect in 1,030 jurisdictions in 38 states.  "The budget includes $184 million for
its expansion," according to Peggy Sherry, chief financial officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

As for 287g, the budget proposal maintained its estimated expenditure at $68 million. But DHS members told La Opinión that the program would be expanded to seven localities in 2012. The 287g program authorizes local and state officials to check people's immigration status and allows them to detain them for violation of immigration laws until they are taken into federal custody.

According to ICE, 287g is active in 71 jurisdictions in 26 states.

"I think the administration is more fearful of Republican attacks that criticize them for being very soft on immigration control, than criticism from Latinos who say they are very hard in this area," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice.

The proposed 2012 budget includes $132 million to improve and expand programs such as E-Verify and SAVE, along with funds for maintenance of 33,400 beds for detainees in ICE custody.