Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton announced the record-breaking numbers at a news conference on Oct. 6, 2010 held at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"Since the beginning of this administration, we have fundamentally changed the federal government's approach to immigration enforcement," said Napolitano.
Part of this approach includes implementing the ICE-led program, Secure Communities. The program is a partnership between ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies that uses biometric technology to identify aliens who have been booked into state and local jails. Once identified, these criminal aliens are processed for removal rather than released back into communities.
Napolitano attributed "a major part of the increase in criminal removals" to Secure Communities. More than 660 state and local partners now participate in Secure Communities nationwide. Napolitano said plans are to "expand this program to every law enforcement jurisdiction in the country by 2013."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca; Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Adrian Garcia; and Fairfax County, Va., Sheriff Stan Barry who joined Napolitano and Morton at the conference vouched for the success of Secure Communities.
"It's clear that this program is working," said Baca. He cited several career criminals who had, prior to his agency's participation in Secure Communities, gone back and forth between incarceration and release. "It's one thing to have crime in America," said Baca. "It's another for an illegal alien to come to America for a career in crime." He predicted that the number of criminal aliens "will eventually go down" with the expansion of Secure Communities.
"We use … Secure Communities to find out which inmates need to have their immigration status looked at by ICE as soon as their local criminal case is over," said Garcia. With the Harris County, Texas, agency as one of the first to participate in Secure Communities, "We're a national model of how the program works smoothly at high volume."
"Secure Communities is an excellent program," said Barry. "The program identifies individuals who are here in our country illegally and commit serious crimes…There's no additional workload for our staff and does not cost a dime to Fairfax County or to our residents."
ICE's worksite enforcement numbers also climbed to historic high numbers in FY 2010, with more audits of businesses than ever before, as well as increases in prosecutions of employers who repeatedly and egregiously hire illegal workers. Enforcing worksite laws not only promotes fairness in the workplace, but it also substantially reduces the incentive for aliens to enter the United States illegally.
In closing remarks, Morton said, "We will continue to enforce the law in a firm, sensible manner, and we will do it based on a rational set of priorities--priorities that focus on criminals, unscrupulous employers and those who game the system--priorities that promote public safety, border security and the integrity of our immigration system."