Across the country, an ICE program known as "Secure Communities" is coming under increased criticism as it sweeps up people with no criminal backgrounds. On Saturday, those dirty hippies at the Wall Street Journal reported in States Rebel Over Deportations:
Lawmakers and law-enforcement officials in several states are turning against a mandatory federal program that is a cornerstone of the Obama administration's immigration policy.
The Secure Communities initiative is designed to spot and deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. Under the program, fingerprints of people booked into a jail are transmitted to a database reviewed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. If found to be in the U.S. illegally, they can face deportation.
Recently, such states as Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and California have raised objections to the program's real-world effects: Although designed to remove criminals from the country, it has led to the deportation of thousands of people without criminal records. . . .
But a last-minute gambit by Republican majorities in the Minnesota legislature may bring the Orwellian-named "Secure Communities" to the Gopher State.
Pro-transparency and privacy rights blogger Rich Neumeister is on the watch at Open Secrets. He reports in Democratic Process hijacked at Legislature:
As I stated in a previous posts, the last week or so at the Legislature the democratic process is compromised for sake of expediency, but sometimes it is done to keep discussion on a subject to a minimum. This happened today with an initiative by Senator Ortman.
The Omnibus Data Practices bill, SF 1143, was heard on the floor of the Senate today. As the bill goes through process, there are amendments. Sen Ortman offered an amendment that would have the State participate in the Department of Homeland Security, Secure Communities Program. The amendment was adopted. Some givens, the amendment was not introduced as a bill, sometimes a bill is introduced, but not given a hearing, therefore, legislators try to get the bill on a proposal that is on the passage of becoming law.
With the Ortman amendment not being introduced as a bill, people did not know about the possibility of this legislation. So today in the Senate, opportunity for her amendment. No public notice and no process for public input on the floor of the Senate. . . .
I knew that the Secure Communities program has privacy and civil liberties issues. With it being on the Senate bill I knew more than likely the issue could have a full hearing when the bill got to a conference committee which may be in a day or so. This is done many times by legislators where an amendment is done in one body, but not in the other, and it is worked on in the conference committee. When the process is done this way, organizations and groups are given notice, and also made aware that in conference committee they will have an opportunity to be heard.
But, low and behold at approximately 9:30pm, I saw on tweets that there was going to be a surprise policy amendment on the Crime Conference bill. . . .
The amendment was placed on the Crime conference bill without due diligence public notice, no opportunity for interested parties who oppose or critical to testify, and done in a way which the democratic ideals are made a mockery. . . .
Good legislation is made when both sides can be presented and be heard.
While Minnesota Republicans have tended to take a hard line on all aspects of immigration issues, other players in Minnesota, including local law enforcement officials, the faith and human rights communities, and possibly even the business community, might well have wanted a word in edgewise on whether the North Star State should opt into this program.
Image: Indymedia created a surprise card.