Alabama Punished for not Playing Amnesty Game

By Janice Kephart on January 20, 2012

As part of the Secure Communities strategy, ICE is leveraging a federal biometric information sharing capability to quickly and accurately identify aliens in law enforcement custody. Since this capability was first activated in 2008, biometric information sharing has helped ICE identify and remove more than 114,000 convicted criminals from the United States. As of December 28, 2011, the biometric information sharing capability of Secure Communities is activated in 2,027 jurisdictions in 44 states and territories. By 2013, ICE plans to use this capability nationwide.
-- ICE, Secure Communities, "Activated Jurisdictions"

The only enforcement tool the Obama administration has gone out of its way to develop is Secure Communities, used by law enforcement to help positively identify illegal alien criminals currently in custody who are potentially deportable for prior illegal activity or crimes. In fact, the administration has engaged in an intense media strategy to support Secure Communities even while internally preventing the program from being as useful as it could be. Even so, the ICE website boasts a state-by-state listing, with maps, of the implementation of Secure Communities, with an announced goal that every jurisdiction in every state will be using Secure Communities by 2013. Today, ICE tells us that "activated jurisdictions" are 2,027 out of 3,181.

Former ICE Official Dan Cadman Explains
the Secure Communities Program:

View the Full Interview

Interestingly, despite the administration's continued battle with Arizona over its own immigration laws, 100 percent of the state's jurisdictions have fully implemented Secure Communities and it boasts of the removal of 14,011 convicted criminals through the end of the 2011 calendar year. Alabama, however, has received different treatment regarding the implementation of Secure Communities. To date, Alabama has "activated" 37 of 67 jurisdictions, or a little more than half the counties. Unlike Arizona's high numbers of removals of convicted criminals, Alabama's are low, at 119.

Like Arizona, Alabama has been sued by the Obama Justice Department for its attempt to enforce immigration law where the federal government has refused, a story told in my memo "Amnesty by Any Means" and subsequent series of blogs on the topic. Unlike Arizona, Alabama is now being refused expansion of the Secure Communities program by Secretary Napolitano, who has to date put out firm support for the program. Why this treatment for Alabama? Because the state won't get on board with the president's amnesty policies nor back down from the federal lawsuit against its immigration law.

With their cards played out, the Obama administration has made clear how thin their commitment to enforcement is. House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) is asking direct questions to Napolitano about the refusal to rollout Secure Communities fully in his home state, and the answers he is getting back make it clear that ICE is simply punishing Alabama for its refusal to go along with "ICE's immigration enforcement policies and programs" — policies and programs that contradict the letter or spirit of current immigration law. This is the answer Rep. Aderholt received from Secretary Napolitano when asked why Alabama is being singled out not to receive a program the administration says is crucial to public safety:

Although the federal courts have enjoined several parts of H.B. 56, certain provisions were not enjoined and are currently in effect ... While these provisions of Alabama's state enforcement law, which conflict with ICE's immigration enforcement policies and programs, remain the subject of litigation, ICE does not believe it appropriate to expand deployment of Secure Communities ... in Alabama."

Mr. Aderholt continues to ask questions, and his January 17, 2012, letter to the Secretary is a welcome step in supporting immigration law enforcement and the states trying to carry out Secure Communities and other means of immigration enforcement that the federal government's "policies and programs" refuse to allow.