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Immigration News

Communities Opting Out of Immigration Enforcement Program

Virginia’s Arlington County has joined Santa Clara County of California in voting to opt out of the Department of Homeland Security’s program Secure Communities.

Tuesday, The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to out, and later in the day, Arlington followed. Washington D.C. had opted out earlier under a different process because it does not belong to a state.

The Secure Communities program is one in which local police would share fingerprint information with federal immigration enforcement authorities for the purpose of identifying undocumented immigrants.

Local law enforcement and immigrant rights groups have been advocating for months for an opt-out option saying the program does not only identify unauthorized criminal immigrants, but non-criminals as well.

Before August, the protocol to withdraw from Secure Communities was unclear, but last month a document explaining the process was released. It stated that a community must notify and meet with state leaders and ICE before opting out.

However, state attorney generals like Jerry Brown of California are preventing many communities from opting out whether they follow procedure or not. (San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessy had tried to remove the city but was refused by Brown.)

DHS was hoping to extend the program nationwide by 2013.