Secure Communities, the federal program that deports illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, can now be ignored by local law enforcement agencies in California according to state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
The program requires illegal immigrants who were arrested to have their fingerprints sent to federal immigration officials. They would then be incarcerated until deportation proceedings were started.
Harris stated, "Secure Communities has not held up to what it aspired to be… immigration detainer requests are not mandatory, and each agency may make its own decision."
Advocates for illegal immigrants were delighted; Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, exclaimed that the move "should eliminate the confusion among some sheriffs about the legal force of detainers." She claimed, "The only logical next step is a strong, statewide standard that limits these burdensome requests."
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office spokesman Steve Whitmore agreed, saying that the move gave Sheriff Lee Baca more flexibility: "The attorney general's opinion is going to be taken very seriously. The sheriff applauds it and is grateful for it."
The Feds weren’t as happy about the decision; a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, "The federal government alone sets these priorities and places detainers on individuals arrested on criminal charges to ensure that dangerous criminal aliens and other priority individuals are not released from prisons and jails into our communities.”