ICE accused of pressuring Chicago-area communities

March 28, 2011 2:40:01 PM PDT
An immigration reform group is accusing federal officials of plotting to force local communities to participate in one of its enforcement programs.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights made the charge against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The government's Secure Communities program is designed to get local law enforcement to help identify illegal aliens.

But the group claims the program is arresting and deporting the wrong people. It says 78 percent of those arrested have no criminal records or only convictions for misdemeanors. And, they say, ICE has used White House clout to circumvent local laws.

"The Secure Communites program is broken," said ICIRR's Joshua Hoyt. "A strategy that continues to ratchet up deportations of nannies and hotel workers and gardeners and destroys families by the hundreds of thousands is a failure."

The group is proposing legislation that would allow communities to opt out of the program.

ABC7 was unable to reach Immigration and Customs Enforcement to get a response.