Georgia congressmen seek meeting with ICE chief

Still steaming over the pace of a federal program targeting illegal immigration, seven Republican congressmen from Georgia have invited the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a meeting on Capitol Hill.

At issue is how the federal government is rolling out a fingerprint-sharing program aimed at deporting violent illegal immigrants. The congressmen have been pushing for the “Secure Communities” program to go statewide faster in Georgia. It is operating in only nine of the state’s 159 counties now.

ICE officials have indicated they can’t move faster with it here because of limited manpower and other resources. But the AJC reported last month that Hawaii and West Virginia are two of more than two dozen states that have fewer illegal immigrants than Georgia but are still getting plugged into the $200 million program, some at a faster pace.

“Our question to you now is simple,” Rep. Phil Gingrey, of Marietta, and six other Republican congressmen wrote Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton Thursday. “Why would you utilize such valuable and seemingly scarce resources to fully activate Secure Communities in such states as Hawaii and West Virginia… before Georgia.”

Hawaii and West Virginia are each estimated to be home to fewer than 10,000 illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington-based nonpartisan research organization that uses U.S. census data for its estimates.

“It seems as if ICE is not responsibly combating the ever-mounting problem of illegal immigration in this nation,” Gingrey wrote, “in order to best utilize the resources it has been granted by Congress.”

The letter concludes by inviting Morton to Capitol Hill so the congressmen could “assist” him in rolling out the program “more swiftly and more efficiently.”

A spokeswoman for ICE issued the following statement: “ICE has received a letter from members of the Georgia delegation and will respond directly to those Congress members through the appropriate channels.”

ICE officials have said the program will be operating across all of metro Atlanta by the end of September. Forty-six other Georgia counties — including some of the state’s more populous ones — are scheduled to join by the end of September. Among them are Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale.

The screenings are already taking place in Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Muscogee and Whitfield counties. All of Georgia’s 159 counties are expected to participate in the program by the end of September 2013.

Without the Secure Communities program in place, law enforcement officials could unwittingly release illegal immigrants back into their communities after they have completed sentences for any crimes committed in the U.S.

Local sheriffs have praised the fingerprint checks, saying they help prevent criminals from deceiving them with aliases. But critics have pointed to ICE’s own statistics, which show most of the more than 64,000 people deported through the program are nonviolent criminals and others who have not committed any crimes other than being in the country illegally.

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American worker

December 10th, 2010
1:00 pm

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American worker

December 10th, 2010
1:00 pm

Hooray for the Congressmen!

Logic 05

December 10th, 2010
1:42 pm

Finally! This has been a long time coming. Hopefully the Congressmen can get ICE moving!

Jose

December 10th, 2010
1:49 pm

Halibut

December 10th, 2010
2:22 pm

Has anyone told these so called critics that deporting illegal aliens “just for being here illegally” is aprt of ICE’s job?

Joel Wischkaemper

December 10th, 2010
5:25 pm

NO ONE.. none expected to reach a victory this early on. That program is still new, and one of many that can be instituted and so, it is coming, and I hope soon. The Mexican Mafia really, really wants a big chunk of Georgia.

Mary

December 10th, 2010
5:39 pm

psst…..ICE doesn’t want to be effective at its job of removing people illegally present in the country!

To really do the job we need mandatory E-Verify. It exists, it works, and it’s cost effective. But politicians won’t make it mandatory because they are beholden to businesses.

We need E-Verify to check all jobs in the US, currently held and any future hires. Business owners who don’t comply get thrown in jail.

Please contact your representatives ask for mandatory, permanent E-Verify to check all jobs.

magyart

December 10th, 2010
10:36 pm

The people that come here illegally know the consequences for ignoring the legal pathway is deportation. It doesn’t matter if they commit a more serious offense or not.

Even ICE has a limited budget and can’t afford to deport all the illegal residents that are discovered, so it’s correct to prioritize the most serious offenders. We must reject the argument that only serious offemders should be deported. ICE should deport as many as possible, with a future goal of zero tolerance.

I’m thankful Secure Communities is used by my sheriff and local police. It has improved public safety and security. The only draw back is they all aren’t deported.

Good policing prevents racial profiling. Police are taught to criminally profile and ignore race. Unfortunately, when some illegal residents get stopped for a broken tail light, speeding, DUI, they play the “race card”, for they don’t want any laws enforced against them.

Visit NumbersUSA and fight illegal immigration.

Susie

December 11th, 2010
2:11 pm

I’m from Texas and this year we went on a small vacation in our state. I met a lovely woman from Georgia that was a teacher. We got to talking about illegal immigration and she told me of some of the problems Georgia faces because of illegal immigration. She said their schools were turned loose with huge numbers of illegal students where Georgia resources had to be spent teaching illegal students who are behind in their courses and there was little time left to teach the children up to speed in their course work. Another problem that needs to e addressed is diseases. She told me that a kindergarden teachers illegal student got hoof and mouth disease. A few weeks later the teacher got it also. It is time our government protected its citizens and I elieve that come January there is going to be a change in how immigration is addressed. All we can do is wait for January and see what happens.

The Snark

December 13th, 2010
11:23 am

What a bunch of hypocrits. We hang money on trees just across the border for these illegals to see (by letting them work and not punishing those who employ them) and then pretend to criticize the federal government for the fact they cross over.

State governments control the illegals’ access to jobs and can cut off that access any time they please by punishing employers who hire them. No jobs, no illegals. Blaming the feds is a joke.