Officials call for California to withdraw from controversial illegal immigration enforcement program

June 10, 2011 11:19 am

Seven Democratic members of California’s Congressional Delegation called on Gov. Jerry Brown Friday to suspend California’s participation in the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program.

In recent weeks, governors in Illinois, New York and Massachusetts sought to suspend or declined to enter into Secure Communities participation agreements. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council voted nearly unanimously to support legislation allowing communities to opt out of the program.

Gov. Brown “should side with both the officers who patrol our communities and the people they protect and end Secure Communities in California,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles).

Under the program, the fingerprints of all arrestees booked into local jails are forwarded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for screening. It was touted as a way to target serious criminals for deportation but has generated controversy because many of those detained are either not convicted of crimes or are low-level offenders.

A California bill that seeks to modify Secure Communities and allow counties to opt out is making its way through the Legislature but whether states and counties can legally decline to participate is not clear.

In addition to Roybal-Allard, Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) and Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) signed the letter. It was organized by Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).

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