Some Women Are A Lot Less "Secure"

This woman is being deported after calling the police for protection during a fight with her partner. Charges that she had illegally sold a $10 phone card were dropped. Welcome to "Secure Communities."

The Washington Post profiles Maria Bolanos, an undocumented immigrant affected by the Obama administration's new policy of linking local law enforcement to federal immigration status. In other words, once you get involved in the criminal justice system in any way, whether as a victim or a perpetrator, your status is on the table.

Currently in effect as a pilot program in several jurisdictions, including the DC area, the program is supposed to root out violent criminals who happen to be in the United States illegally. But why not deport a woman with a small child (a U.S. citizen) for apparently but not really selling a phone card to a neighbor? (Also, this is illegal?) Bolanos was shackled and detained, according to The Post. Also:

Bolanos said that she told authorities she was still breastfeeding her daughter but that they initially disregarded her plea to be released. After a doctor found that her breasts were engorged with milk, she was fitted with a locator ankle bracelet and sent home, pending the deportation hearing Nov 3.

Bolanos' partner, who is from Mexico, was detained after being stopped for making an illegal turn. (In the case with Bolanos, he was charged with assault, but it was dropped when neither party showed up in court). If they are both deported, which seems likely, their daughter will be separated from at least one parent.

Here's another case, from Oregon:

Born in China, Helen (she didn't want her real name used) entered the United States four years ago. She is married to a U.S. citizen who abuses her. Instead of filing the paperwork required for her to obtain legal permanent residency, her husband used Helen's lack of immigration status as a tool to further control her.

In July, the police took in both Helen and her husband under a dual arrest policy for incidents of domestic violence.When Helen was arrested, she was fingerprinted as part of the booking process...Her fingerprints were run against ICE databases, and she was transferred to an immigration facility rather than released.

Emphasis added. "Helen" had no criminal record and wasn't ever charged with a crime.

Several civil liberties groups, including The Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Cardozo Immigrant Justice Clinic, launched a campaign in August to draw attention to the broader civil liberties concerns over the policy, which is abbreviated as S-Comm. Among their criticisms:

While ICE markets S-Comm as an efficient, narrowly tailored tool that targets "high threat" immigrants, it actually functions as a dragnet for funneling people into the mismanaged ICE detention and removal system. ICE's own records show that the vast majority (79%) of people deported due to S-Comm are not criminals or were picked up for lower level offenses. Second, that the program serves as a smokescreen for racial profiling, allowing police officers to stop people based solely on their appearance and arrest non-citizens, knowing that they will be deported, even if they were wrongfully arrested and are never convicted. Preliminary data confirms that some jurisdictions, such as Maricopa County Arizona, have abnormally high rates of non-criminal S-Comm deportations.

Maricopa County, of course, is the home of shackle-happy Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And some have noted that S-Comm functions a lot in practice like Arizona's reviled SB 1070 law. Among their many other problems, they force women who are in the United States without legal status to choose between deportation and seeking protection or reporting a crime. Sounds pretty safe, right?

Call For Help Leads To Possible Deportation For Hyattsville Mother [WP]
Secure Communities Program Doesn't Make Domestic Violence Victims Secure [Statesman Journal]
Uncover The Truth [Official Site]

Image via Juana Arias/Washington Post