US to extend fingerprint programme for Caribbean nationals

(Jamaica Gleaner) Despite strong opposition from the governors of two major United States cities and immigrant groups, the Obama administration says it will extend a controversial fingerprinting programme that identifies Caribbean and other illegal immigrants.

In e-mails dispatched last week to officials and the police in Massachusetts and New York, officials of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the programme, Secure Communities, would be activated in all remaining jurisdictions today.

ICE spokeswoman, Barbara Gonzalez said Secure Communities has proven to be the single most valuable tool in allowing the agency to eliminate the ad hoc approach of the past and focus on criminal aliens and repeat immigration law violators.

Last June, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick refused to sign an agreement with ICE to expand Secure Communities beyond a pilot programme in the Boston area since 2006.

Critics say Secure Communities is an “overly wide dragnet” that seeks to deport a significant number of illegal Caribbean and other immigrants with no criminal record.

They also say these immigrants were arrested for minor infractions, and that the policy fosters racial profiling.

A spokesman for Cuomo said the New York governor, whose state has a significant number of Caribbean immigrants, is “monitoring the situation.”

Patrick said it is “very important” to him that people not see expansion of Secure Communities as “a license to profile.”

Boston Mayor said it is dangerous to target immigrants when you are trying to build a community.

In a letter sent over the weekend to United States Attorney General Eric Holder, the son of Barbadian immigrants, New York Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio urged the US federal government to halt the expansion of the controversial program to New York City, warning of the risks it poses to public safety.

de Blasio noted that the Secure Communities program takes fingerprints of suspects in jail and sends them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which, in turn, shares the information with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The programme has resulted in the deportation of thousands of people accused but never convicted of committing a crime.

Around the Web