Expanded Immigration Checks in Montgomery County and Baltimore City Begin

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The controversial program that allows U.S. Immigration officials to check the citizenship of people who have been arrested is being expanded to include Baltimore City and Montgomery County. The Secure Communities program lets immigration officials review fingerprints collected when people are booked.

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Proponents of the program believe that it is reasonable to check the residency status of someone who is arrested. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contends that immigration enforcement through the Secure Communities program focuses on criminal offenders and has dramatically increased the removal of convicted criminals. Under the program finger print records, which have always been shared between local law enforcement and the FBI, will now be shared with the Department of Homeland Security. Then local ICE officials will be notified if the check indicates past criminal conduct.

The effort, which is already in effect in other Maryland counties, has resulted in 162,940 deportations nationwide and 670 in Maryland since 2008. Every jurisdiction in the nation is expected to be under the program by the end of 2013.

Opponents of the program, including Casa de Maryland, assert that the program too often deports illegal immigrants who have committed only minor offenses. For example, in Maryland only 25% of those deported were convicted of felonies. As a result of the program, immigrant advocates believe that millions of children could potentially be orphaned because their parents are deported.

Now, more than ever, illegal immigrants must hire effective and experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyers to represent them at trial. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help obtain a not guilty verdict or get a sentence that does not trigger deportation such as a stet, nolle prosequi or probation before judgment

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