Program aimed at criminal immigrants criticized

Program aimed at criminal immigrants criticized

CHAMPAIGN — While advocates for local immigrants expressed concerns at a forum on Thursday night over a controversial program used by law enforcement to detain and deport immigrants, Champaign County's new jail superintendent announced changes intended to improve local implementation of the program.

More than 125 people turned out for a forum on the so-called Secure Communities program at the Champaign Public Library. The forum was presented by the Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum, a group of citizens interested in the plight of immigrants in the community.

Josh Hoyt, director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights, said Secure Communities is a program launched by the Bush  administration in 2008 to remove dangerous criminal immigrants who pose a threat to public safety.

The Champaign County sheriff's office participates in the program, which allows fingerprints of immigrants to be sent to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and allows police to continue to keep people in custody so that ICE can pick them up and begin the process of deportation.

Jose Sanchez of the C-U Immigration Forum questioned how the program has been implemented.

"The program was supposed to deport high-level criminals, including people convicted of rape, drug possession and murder," Sanchez said. "But we're seeing people deported following traffic violations and for taking their kids to school. These people aren't criminals, and they should not be targeted."

"This program that is operating in our county isn't working, and there are ways we can change it and improve it," said Mike Doyle, executive director of the University YMCA.

Forum member Lucia Maldonado told the stories of a local 13-year-old girl whose father suddenly disappeared after he was picked up and an area mother who was held at the county jail for four days after she was involved in a traffic accident.

"It is a horrendous situation," Maldonado said. "Many immigrants have lost their trust with the police department, and that trust has been broken."

Forum member Aaron Johnson-Ortiz suggested a series of changes to the local program, including the suspension of all immigration holds at the county jail, especially for non-criminals, and improvements to documentation and the flow of information.

Champaign County sheriff's Capt. Allen Jones, the new jail superintendent, announced the creation of a process that he said will include detailed accountability for all people held under the Secure Communities program.

Jones said the sheriff's office will also create a document, written in both English and Spanish, to be given to all people being held for ICE. The document will include information about the charges the person being held faces, the posting of bonds and what happens to him or her when the local bond has been posted.

"We will do what we can to make this process function in the best way it can," Jones said.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on December 02, 2011 at 9:12 am

"Immigrants"?  Are they legal immigrants, or illegal immigrants?  Illinois, and the other states are broke.  Yes, I am being heartless, and politically incorrect; but the citizens no longer have the money to fund the health care, educational needs, housing, and other assorted expenses for non-citizens.  America is no longer the land of wealth.  If an illegal immigrant is picked up for a crime whether it be speeding, or theft; they should be deported to their home country.  What do you think happens to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances in other countries?  Have we come to the point where non-citizens have all of the same rights as citizens?  The country can no longer afford it.

asparagus wrote on December 02, 2011 at 9:12 am

So, we send them back to south of the border and instead send millions of dollars to Mexico so they can do the job better??  If they are violent criminals then fine, deport them.  If not, we should have some type of program in place to allow these folks to become tax payers.  And, we need to shut down the border so that future immigrants are forced to use legal means of enterring the US.  Why not legally permit laborers (and families) to come to the US if they can show that they have work -- with all the proper documentation and tracking; and, suspend the "born in the US automatically a citizen" rule for people that enter under this status.


dogma wrote on December 02, 2011 at 10:12 am

The United States does permit laborers to come here.  We have a system for legal immigration. No one is taking issue with that.  There are thousands of people on waiting lists wishing to legally come to the US.  Because they wish to follow the law they must wait. Silly them, just go to Mexico and cross over the little river.  

ronaldo wrote on December 02, 2011 at 11:12 am

So asparagus, what's the difference between an illegal immigrant and a trespasser?  And why shouldn't they be forcibly removed?

asparagus wrote on December 06, 2011 at 8:12 am

The difference is that tresspassers are not encouraged onto the property by residents there wanting them to do work.

WiltonDiary wrote on December 03, 2011 at 7:12 pm

The USA is NOT broke!  The USA is the wealthiest nation in the world.  Please stop repeating those Republican and  Tea Bagger tired and worn talking  points.  The USA is the land of opportunity and you are the result of an immigrants coming to this country for a better life.

There is enough money to do everything that is important — if only we could agree on what that is. Economics is about values.

A phony metaphor is being used to hijack the nation’s political conversation and skew public policies to benefit better-off Americans and hurt most others.

We have an 8.9 percent unemployment rate, yet further measures to spur job creation are off the table. We’re broke, you see. We have a $15 trillion economy, yet we pretend to be an impoverished nation with no room for public investments in our future or efforts to ease the pain of a deep recession on those Americans who didn’t profit from it or cause it in the first place.

The United States may have run up a huge debt, but it is not a poor country by any stretch of the imagination­n. The federal government owns roughly 650 million acres of land, close to a third of the nation’s total land mass. Plus a million buildings. Plus electrical utilities like the Tennessee Valley Authority. And an interstate highway system.

The ultimate government asset is the ability to tax a large, wealthy population­. Households and non-profit institutio­ns in the U.S. collective­ly were worth about $57 trillion at the end of 2010. And that doesn’t count the intangible assets — education, the rule of law, an entreprene­urial culture.

The biggest asset we have by far is our human capital – our abilities! We are a nation of innovation enterprise hope and determination! 



dogma wrote on December 02, 2011 at 9:12 am

If they are not here legally, then by definition they are commiting a crime, hence they are criminals.  If they were arrested and taken to jail, they were at least alleged to have been commiting a crime, hence a criminal.  We can debate if the criminal act of driving without a licence, or whatever got them arrested, should be enough to get them deported, however, do not redefine criminal behavior as non-criminal.

If daddy drops of his daughter at school and then goes out into the community and commits a crime, should he not be locked up?  Did he not put his daughter in the position of losing her father because he chose to commit a crime?  How is it different with someone who is in the country illegally?  The situation is sad, the people need to be handled with compassion, yet society cannot ignore a crime, regardless of the crime, merely because to deal with it will hurt innocent people.  

kyedpa5 wrote on December 02, 2011 at 12:12 pm

"do not redefine criminal behavior as non-criminal." 

Allow me to remind you that Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King ARE criminals.  I guess “society cannot ignore a crime, regardless of the crime,” so the slave catchers had a right to “deal” with her involving a rope and a tree according to your logic.  That was the law at that point in history.  Legality does not always equal morality in every single situation.  The way I look at it is these people are not coming here because it’s slightly more convenient than life in Latin America.  They are coming because their families are literally starving in Latin America and if your children are going to starve and you are not willing to commit a non-violent “crime” to literally save their lives, you are a bad parent, and a coward.  Holding these “criminals” in jail, the court costs, and costs of flying them back to their homeland is expensive.  Out nations in debt, our state is broke. 

dogma wrote on December 02, 2011 at 1:12 pm

kyedpa5 you just made my point. As a society we deemed slavery as immoral and changed the law making it such.  As a society it was decided abortion was acceptable and changed the law making it legal.  We did not leave it, saying it was illegal, and then just ignored the law, we changed it. 

If as a society we want open borders, then we should change the law and allow anyone in who wants to come in. Until then, we must enforce the law.

A free socitety cannot survive if we allow our citizens or anyone within our borders, to merely obey the laws they like and ignore the laws they deem immoral.  You cannot pick and choose the laws you obey. If you choose to break a law you deem immoral, you then must be willing to suffer the consequence of breaking that law.  If I decide to bring my family to America to keep them from starving, I must be willing to suffer the consequenses of my actions.

I would add that our society needs to punish the business that chooses to break the law and hire the illegals.  

bremax wrote on December 02, 2011 at 9:12 am

Illegal immigrants are breaking the law by staying here beyond their visa (or never having received a visa in the first place), then they commit *ANOTHER* crime, and only then do they get deported. 


Do we really care if the second crime is minor vs. severe? 


Do we really care if multiple offenders have "lost their trust" of the police?

yates wrote on December 02, 2011 at 10:12 am

Hey Asparagus, it seems we don't even have a program in place to make our own residents tax payers. Why should we have one for those who broke the law to come here? Get real.

asparagus wrote on December 06, 2011 at 8:12 am

I don't follow.  Seems the IRS does a fair job of collecting taxes etc...

kyedpa5 wrote on December 02, 2011 at 11:12 am

"a program launched by the Obama administration in 2008"  Obama took office in January of 2009.  Typo or was it the previous administration?

Mike Howie wrote on December 02, 2011 at 12:12 pm
Profile Picture

Thanks for pointing that out, although I'm sorry that you had to. It was the Bush administration. We've fixed it now.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 02, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Until the border is closed, and thoroughly patrolled; there will be illegal immigration.  At a time when our troops are leaving Iraq, and being discharged in this economy with no jobs; they could be diverted to the border.  A crackdown on employers who hire illegals should happen also.  The reasons that it is not being done are votes, and cheap labor.  The citizens pay the costs with big business earning more money.  All it takes to vote in this country is a piece of mail with a name on it.  No one checks on anything beyond that.  State employees are not supposed to ask for legal status; and some state employees do not have legal status.  A person from another country can receive Medicaid, housing benefits, educational benefits, and food assistance; plus they can vote.  Both political parties have no interest in doing anything regarding the problem.  They talk big about it; but nothing is ever done.  Reagan's ammesty program was a bust.  It just allowed big business to continue hiring cheap labor with the states paying the cost.  Citizens employed in the trades suffer because shoddy, cheap labor is doing the construction.  Illegal immigrants do take jobs that Americans will do.  At the very least, send the illegal immigrants who committ any crime back to their country with their families.   The country can no longer afford them.   

kyedpa5 wrote on December 02, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You only need mail to change your registration location.  You need a government ID or US passport to register and illegals cannot acquire those.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 02, 2011 at 1:12 pm

If you are referring to voter registration; you do not need an ID, or passport.  Motor Voter Registration can be done at any state office on a simple card.  The cards are mailed in.  There is no checking, or follow up.  Why do you think the All Kids Program was created?  Why do you think that Immigrant Centers exist in the Chicago area?  Why do you think that the State of Illinois funds services to immigrants across the state?  Votes, and cheap labor are the reasons. The costs of medical expenses, education, housing, food, etc.... are passed onto the citizens in their municipalities, counties, and the state.

WiltonDiary wrote on December 03, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Sid YOU are wrong to even make that suggtestion.  YOU obvioulsy know nothing about voter fraud!  It is not as easy as you make it sound!

Unlike Republicans, ACORN has never been convicted of voter registration fraud and there is no evidence that ACORN ever intentionally engaged in registration fraud.

Republicans have a long history of intentional voter fraud and intimidation.

For example, this is not the first time Republicans have been caught engaging in deceptive and fraudulent voter registration. In 2006, the Register found a similar fraud pattern in Orange County. That year 167 voters complained to election officials that they were switched to Republican registration without their permission. Sproul and Associates in 2004 trained its staff only to register Republican voters and destroyed any other registration cards. Mark Anthony Jacoby, owner of a for-profit group called Young Political Majors (YPM), pled guilty to voter registration fraud in Los Angeles in 2009. Jacoby and Young Political Majors were hired by the California Republican Party in 2008 to head their voter registration efforts in the state. Even a Republican, Congressman Chris Cannon, at a hearing of the House subcommittee on commercial and administrative law conceded, "The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn't throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out."


WiltonDiary wrote on December 03, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Maybe that is how it works in Pesotum or Thomasboro or even Chamapaign, but that is not how it works in the "real" United States of America.

None of your explanations are true. There is almost no voting fraud in America. And none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any but the most isolated cases. The only reason Republicans spread these lies is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes.

The most widespread hurdle has been the demand for photo identification at the polls, a departure from the longstanding practice of using voters’ signatures or household identification like a utility bill. Seven states this year have passed laws requiring strict photo ID to vote, and similar measures were introduced in 27 other states. More than 21 million citizens — 11 percent of the population — do not have government ID cards. Many of them are poor, or elderly, or black and Hispanic and could have a hard time navigating the bureaucracy to get a card.

At best, voting laws in this country are complicated and unclear. They represent a deep history of legal discrimination. You’d be hard-pressed to find natural-born American citizens who understand the intricacies of voting laws.

The Heritage Foundation seems to be concerned that legal voters are being disenfranchised, but the only thing disenfranchising them is their own choice. In the past century, voter turnout has never surpassed 65 percent.



WiltonDiary wrote on December 03, 2011 at 7:12 pm

350,000 illegals have already been deported this year alone and the borders are more securei today than they have been in over ten years.

Unauthorized immigration peaked three years ago after Bush left office, and is sharply receding. It is declining all over, but especially in housing-bust states like Florida, Nevada and Virginia.

Harsher enforcement by the Obama Administration probably has something to do with it. But so does the Great Recession, and while the total population of illegal immigrants has fallen somewhat, to about 11 million, there is no exodus. They are not flooding in as much, but they are not flooding out.

WE need to get over our fixation on the southern border, a hard thing to expect at a time when anxieties there have erupted into a raging panic that gladdens the hearts of politicians on the right.

This is the year that Congress passed in a flash a $600 million border-security bill, which President Obama immediately signed. The homeland security secretary just announced that Predator drones, our eyes in the sky above Afghanistan, were guarding the line from San Diego to Brownsville, too.

Arizonans are selling a vision of border chaos and violence disconnected from reality. If it is about drug wars, someone tell the mayors and the sheriffs of border cities, where violent crime is down. Some of America’s safest cities are in border states. Desert decapitators are a myth, unless Governor Brewer, who ducked questions about them last week, has evidence she is not sharing.

The border crackdown has been therapy for a nation spooked. But for solving the real problems of immigration, not so much. The terror babies are a fiction, but millions of unauthorized workers are not. At some point the economy will recover. The demand for immigrant labor will heat up, and illegal crossings will rise. Companies will go begging for legal workers. The drones and the boots and the fences will deter many new migrants, but not all. Eleven million people will still be living and working outside the law.

And the country will learn that it spent billions at the border to solve a problem a sealed border won’t fix.



Sid Saltfork wrote on December 03, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I don't give a hoot for either party.  Both political parties have huffed, and puffed for years over the issue.  The issue is clear.  Migrants are either legal, or illegal.  There may be a decline; but our municipal, county, and state costs for the health care, housing, food, education, and other assorted services are beyond what we can afford.  Springfield just played a shell game with postponing closures of needed services to the disabled, and ill by robbing Peter to pay Paul.  We are not taking care of our citizens.  We cannot continue to support illegal "immigrants".  Enforce the existing laws.  It has nothing to do with politics.  It is about greed.  Votes, and cheap labor are the reasons.  When complaints are made about deporting criminal, illegal aliens; the people who pay the bills should have a say regardless of the P.C. theorists ire.  If you want to donate to assist them, that is fine.  Just don't keep taxing everybody else for their care.     

natebaux wrote on December 04, 2011 at 9:12 am

go to ANY resturaunt in c/u. look in the kitchen and see who is washing dishes and cooking your food.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 04, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Yeah, like the two, undocumented guys who were working on Green Street.  The two who conned young women into using the men's room in the place so they could walk in on them.  Yeah, a couple of "immigrants".  We cannot afford to maintain our own criminals in incarceration.  Why keep the "criminal immigrants"?  We have enough of our homegrown variety.   Goodness forbid that employers would have to pay decent wages for work.  I stopped going to one McDonald's close to work because my order was not understood.  I don't know the Spanish phrase for a sausage biscuit; and I don't plan on learning it.  Legal immigration: Yes.  Illegal immigration: No.  We cannot afford it for the sake of politicians, and un-American employers.  We are broke as a state, and country.  What are your priorities?  Do citizens come before "immigrants"?      

SilentGeorge wrote on December 04, 2011 at 8:12 pm

A few weeks ago, a group of illegal immigrants were told to they could be hired at a local restaurant if they applied.  They were told to go inside to apply and mention "the bacon tree" and they would be hired immediately.

A carload pulled up outside the restaurant and one of the illegals went inside with his fake papers to check out the story.  He came out 30 minutes later in handcuffs with two INS agents.  As he walked by the car he whispered "Ees not a bacon tree.......ees a ham bush!"

diazr wrote on December 05, 2011 at 9:12 am

Trite accusations and old arguments are not what this forum was about; the presenters did their best to show what is going on in Champaign County with the implementation of this program. Inform yourself at and read the reports. Our county deserves better.