Photo: Fox News
During Fox News’ coverage of Secure Communities, a deportation program begun under the Bush administration, Fox pushed the idea that opting out of the program would create “sanctuary states” for dangerous undocumented immigrants. In fact, a large proportion of individuals who are detained and deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carry only misdemeanors and minor infractions or have no criminal conviction or background.
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Fox: States That Opt Out Of Secure Communities Are Setting Up “Sanctuary Cities And Counties.” On the May 31 edition of Fox News’ America Live, Fox News correspondent Trace Gallagher suggested that if localities were allowed to opt out of the federal Secure Communities program for dealing with undocumented immigrants, they would be creating “sanctuary cities and counties.” Guest anchor Martha MacCallum claimed that states considering opting out were “essentially creating sanctuary states.” From America Live:
MacCALLUM: California is now one step closer to approving a bill that would allow counties to opt out of an agreement to check the immigration status of anybody who is arrested. Democrats in the state say that undermines local law enforcement and will lead to the deportation of innocent illegals. Republicans against the opt-out say that it undermines federal law.
That debate is now raising a lot of questions about the administration’s commitment to protecting our border. We’re going to sort of break down all of this for you. There’s a lot in there, and Trace is going to sort of, you know, tell us how all of this comes out. Hey, Trace.
GALLAGHER: Hey, Martha. The program is called Secure Communities, and it was initiated by the Obama administration as a way to combat illegal immigration, especially for illegals who break the law other than by just coming into the country. The way it works is, is if you go to the county jail, they take your fingerprints and they automatically will cross-check those fingerprints against a federal immigration database. Now, if the inmate is illegal, they’re turned over to the feds for possible deportation. I say possible, because the vast majority of those who are turned over are not deported.
GALLAGHER: For the Obama administration, it’s kind of a pickle, right? Because sanctuary cities and counties is a violation of federal law. They’re already suing the state of Arizona for trying to enforce federal law. The question now becomes what do they do to counties who are violating federal law.
MacCALLUM: Yeah, it’s a very interesting debate, Trace. So thank you for that. California is now joining a growing number of states that are taking steps to opt out of that federal program, essentially creating sanctuary states where illegals will find it easier to avoid federal scrutiny. Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts are studying this as well. They may allow counties to opt out of this program that is an Obama-approved—President Obama-approved program. [Fox News, America Live, 5/31/11]