California Backlash Against S-Com Moves Up the Food Chain

Posted on April 26, 2011


From Colorlines:

Law enforcement officialshave argued that asking police to also act as immigration agents makes witnesses and victims more scared about reporting crimes, which makes their work harder, and which makes communities less safe. The more folks find out about Secure Communities, the more it seems the program’s a misnomer.

Now, California Rep. Zoe Lofgren is demanding an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s implementation policies. Lofgren contends that DHS lied to localities about whether or not the program was an optional program. Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties were among a handful of counties that tried to opt out of the supposedly voluntary program. After months of confusion about program policies, they’ve been forced to comply and share fingerprints with federal immigration officials.

“Secure Communities is not voluntary and never has been,” a DHS official told the Los Angeles Times. “Unfortunately, this was not communicated as clearly as it should have been to state and local jurisdictions.”

California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced a bill that would modify California counties’ ICE agreements so that only the fingerprints of people who’ve been convicted of felonies would be cross-checked with immigration databases. It would also protect domestic violence victims and youth from deportation, and most important, make Secure Communities optional for California counties. The bill is scheduled for a committee hearing this week.

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