Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More California Agencies Resisting "Secure Communities" Program

About a month ago, we wrote about the Department of Homeland Security's Orwellian-sounding Secure Communities initiative. This program allows (or, rather, requires) local law enforcement agencies to send the fingerprints of arrestees whose immigration status can't be verified to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and to detain those arrestees until ICE decides what to do with them. Although the program has been credited with deporting hundreds of illegal immigrants who were convicted of felonies in Calfornia, over two-thirds of those detained and turned over to ICE were designated as "non-criminals", and many are living in the United States legally. While we understand that passions run high on the subject of illegal immigration, particularly in communities near California's southern border, we're very concerned about the civil liberties implications of enlisting local police in the work of the DHS, and about the kinds of communities are being created by mandatory harassment of peaceful citizens.

Well, according to Calfornia Watch, we're not the only people uncomfortable with Secure Communities. Ryan Gabrielson reports that local law enforcement agencies throughout the state are refusing to participate in the program. San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey has declared that, as of June 1, his department will stop holding possible illegals arrested for low-level offenses. (San Francisco has, of course, declared itself a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants.) Moreover, a bill is currently working its way through the California Assembly to nullify the state's relationship with ICE as it pertains to Secure Communities.

We don't often credit California legislators for doing something right (usually because we can't find a reason to). But nullifying the state's participation in the harassment and imprisonment of so many peaceful (and in many cases, legal) Californians would be a great thing for them to do.


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