Sunday, February 07, 2016
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Issues: "Secure Communities"


To understand how Secure Communities works, it's best to begin by explaining what happens without Secure Communities.  Click here for community resources on S-Comm.

Without Secure Communities: When someone is arrested and fingerprinted (usually before any charges are actually filed), his or her fingerprints are sent to the FBI for a criminal background check. The FBI runs those prints through their national database to verify the person's identity and determine whether he or she has any outstanding warrants. The FBI then sends relevant information back to the arresting law agency. This process is very quick, often taking only a few minutes. 

With Secure Communities:  The process is similar, but expanded. Under Secure Communities, the FBI runs the fingerprints against two databases: the regular criminal database and a civil database containing fingerprints and other biometric information on anyone who has had prior contact with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (through a benefits application), with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (through prior interior enforcement actions), or with Customs and Border Protection (either for legal entry into the country or for someone caught attempting illegal entry). 

If an arrested person's fingerprints match records in the civil database, the information is forwarded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington D.C., which then verifies the person's status. ICE relays the verification to the FBI, and the FBI forwards this information to the arresting agency. ICE also forwards this information to its local Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field office. ERO will decide whether to issue a "detainer," a request to the arresting law enforcers to hold the person until ERO can take custody. If ERO issues a detainer, the local law enforcement agency can choose to hold the person for up to 48 hours. Detainers are not legally binding, and local agencies can make their own determination whether or not to honor them. 
scomm boston statisticslge

MIRA opposes the implementation of "Secure Communities" because:

"Secure Communities" often ensnares hard-working immigrants guilty of no crime:

  • "Secure Communities" has not done what it's supposed to do — target serious criminals. Nationally, 47% of those deported have been low-level offenders and an additional 28% have had no criminal conviction on their record.

  • In Boston, over half of those deported through the program (53%) have had no criminal convictions.

  • By clogging up the system with low-level or civil cases, "Secure Communities" diverts ICE's resources from pursuing actual threats to our communities.

    FAQs on S-Comm and Police Intake Forms

Read more: Secure Communties Advocacy


S-Comm Materials

Patrick administration's public meetings on "Secure Communities"

"Secure Communities" Handout (English)

"Comunidades Seguros" folleto (español)

RISE Programs and Contacts (

Victim Rights Law Center (

Jane Doe Inc  (

Mass Legal Help (

Multicultural Immigrant Coalition Against Violence

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