Deportations Skyrocket Under Obama & “Secure Communities”

2010 — 2014

United States

Borders Citizenship Families & Relationships

In 2010, President Barack Obama expanded Secure Communities, a Department of Homeland Security program started under George W. Bush designed to identify and deport undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions.

The program enabled local authorities to share fingerprint databases from jails with federal immigration authorities, in order to track down and turn over undocumented persons to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation proceedings. The program identified individuals for all crimes, including petty crimes like traffic violations or trespassing.

The expansion of Secure Communities in Obama’s first term led to approximately 1.5 million deportations and sparked resistance by both community officials and civil rights groups. As families were separated and detentions rose, activists took to civil disobedience nationwide conducting sit-ins, hunger strikes, border crossings, and national “Coming-Out” tours. Many local government officials came to see the program as detrimental to trust building and crime fighting in their communities, leading to nearly 300 cities (including New York City) and counties halting cooperation and stopping detainment of undocumented migrants based upon low-level infractions.

In November 2014, Obama announced that he would end the Secure Communities program as part of his executive action on immigration (see also:Presidential Orders on Immigration, 2012].