Friday, May 27, 2011

California Assembly Opts Out of Secure Communities

Thursday was an exciting day in California's Assembly, as legislators debated and then approved a bill to opt out of the federal Secure Communities program.

Secure Communities is a program run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of the Department of Homeland Security. It requires local law enforcement agencies to fingerprint anyone suspected of residing in the United States illegally, and to turn over anyone with uncertain immigration status to ICE agents. As we discussed last month, the program's successes in deporting illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds have been offset by its harassment of non-criminals and (in some cases) legal immigrants. More generally, requiring local police to arbitrarily detain and deport anyone constitutes an uncomfortable step backward in immigrants' right to live peacefully (and legally) in the United States. Jurisdictions around the country, including the city of San Francisco, have begun opting out of it. After the passage of Tom Ammiano's AB 1081 yesterday, law enforcement agencies throughout California may now opt out at their discretion.


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