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‘Secure Communities’ Program Draws Ire of Church

| January 27, 2012
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ICE agents (Photo by: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

ICE agents (Photo by: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Roman Catholic archdiocese of San Francisco is sponsoring an event Saturday, to express opposition to the federal Secure Communities immigration program. During the event at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is expected to share a new version of his Secure Communities opt-out bill (AB 1081).

The earlier version was based on an implementation agreement between California and Department of Homeland Security. Last year DHS scrapped the arrangement, though still required state participation.

“We had to go back and rethink our approach,” said Ammiano’s spokesman Quintin Mecke. “Since the original agreements that we were going to opt-out of no longer existed.”

Under Secure Communities, local law enforcement is required to share the fingerprints of all arrestees with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE can then issue detainer requests, which is typically an order to hold an individual for a period of up to two days.

“What we’re looking at right now is not opting-out of that process,” said Mecke Friday. But rather setting standards or thresholds for those detainers.”

Mecke says the revised bill will go before the legislature before the end of February.

California has had more deportations under Secure Communities than any other state.

Critics of the program contend it casts too wide a net and leads to the deportation of immigrants with no criminal histories.

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in an e-mail, “[The program] is the single most effective tool in prioritizing enforcement and removal operations on criminal aliens.”

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