President Barack Obama’s executive immigration action, announced on November 20, 2014, will put an end to the six-year-old multimillion dollar enforcement program, Secure Communities. Under the program, local authorities shared digital fingerprints from everyone booked into jail with federal authorities, who searched the records to determine whether the arrestees were illegally present in the United States. Eighty-two percent of all illegal aliens deported from the interior of the U.S. in 2013 had been convicted of a crime. Many of them were identified through the Secure Communities program, which was greatly expanded by Obama’s former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
In a November 20, 2014 memo, Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Secretary, Jeh Johson writes: “The Secure Communities program, as we know it, will be discontinued. The goal of Secure Communities was to more effectively identify and facilitate the removal of criminal aliens in the custody of state and local law enforcement agencies.” Secure Communities will eventually be replaced with what the administration is calling the Priority Enforcement Program. DHS Secretary Johnson is rewriting the rules that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will use to determine which illegal aliens are a priority for deportation. The aim is to remove only the most dangerous criminal aliens from the United States. The new policy prioritizes the removal of aliens suspected of terrorism or espionage, those apprehended while attempting to illegally cross the border, illegal immigrants involved in gang-related activities, repeat offenders, as well as aliens involved in felonious activities (illegally entering the U.S., which is a federal felony, is specifically excluded from consideration under the new priority designations).