New Report Shows Secure Communities Leads to Racial Profiling


A new report reveals a number of concerning findings about the impact that the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program has on racial profiling and the loss of due process. The Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy recently released a report entitled “Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process.” Below are some of the key findings.

Racial Profiling: Latinos and Men Targeted through S-Comm

The report finds a disproportionately large number of Latinos arrested by ICE through Secure Communities. While only 77% of the undocumented population in the U.S., Latinos made up a disproportionate 93% of those arrested through Secure Communities in the study's sample. This disparity suggests that racial profiling, particularly of Latinos, occurs in counties where Secure Communities is active.

The study also finds an overrepresentation of men, in line with a pattern of racial profiling targeting young men of color. Although current estimates suggest that 57% of the undocumented population is male, 93% of those arrested through Secure Communities were male. Women are noticeably underrepresented as 7% of S-Comm arrests, even though 43 percent of the undocumented population is comprised of women and 25% of all arrests nationally are of women.

Studies show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than their U.S.-born counterparts, suggesting that unfair racial profiling of Latino men is a key reason for this overrepresentation. The authors intend to further explore this issue in an upcoming report.

Tens of Thousands of U.S. Citizens Impacted by S-Comm

Immigration enforcement through Secure Communities does not only affect “criminal aliens” as ICE claims; rather, thousands of U.S. citizens have been arrested by ICE and an estimated 88,000 U.S. citizens have had a member of their immediate family arrested through the program—that number is indeed much larger if we consider the impact on extended families and communities. According to the report, an estimated 3,600 U.S. citizens have been arrested by ICE through the program. Further, 39% of those arrested by ICE through Secure Communities have a spouse or child who is a U.S. citizen. As a result, the program disproportionately affects Latino communities, regardless of immigration status.

Lack of Due Process and Legal Representation for S-Comm Detainees

While 41% of immigrants in immigration court proceedings (through the Executive Office of Immigration Review) are represented by a lawyer, only 24% of those arrested through Secure Communities have legal representation.  Further, their cases are less likely to be heard before a judge and they are more likely to be detained. Immigrants are already denied the right to a lawyer in non-criminal immigration proceedings, but those arrested through Secure Communities are even more likely to pass through the system unrepresented.

Secure Communities and ICE ACCESS Programs Result in Racial Profiling

Secure Communities is not the first ICE program to result in racial profiling. A 2009 report by the Warren Institute showed increased racial profiling of Latinos with the implementation of the Criminal Alien Program (CAP). According to the report, after CAP was introduced to a local jail, police arrested Latinos for low-level offenses and minor traffic violations more frequently. Further, the Office of Inspector General, the internal watchdog of DHS, found in 2010 that the 287(g) program lacks oversight and protections against racial profiling and other civil rights abuses.

There is now evidence that Secure Communities leads to racial profiling of Latinos, as do CAP and 287g.

On the basis of these findings, Rights Working Group recommends the following:

Pass the End Racial Profiling Act, to bar racial profiling of Latinos and other communities of color based on ethnicity, race, national origin or religion. 

Eliminate Department of Homeland Security programs, such as Secure Communities, CAP, and 287(g) that result in racial profiling. Revise the DOJ’s 2003 Federal Guidance on Racial Profiling to prevent racial profiling on the border and to make the guidance enforceable.

End DHS collaborations with jurisdictions that the DOJ is suing or investigating on civil rights or constitutional grounds.