The federal government will no longer rely on agreements with states to operate its controversial Secure Communities program, which counts the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and all of Florida’s counties (.pdf) among its participants.
As the Los Angeles Times reports:The Department of Homeland Security notified 39 governors Friday that the fingerprint-sharing program did not need their approval to operate in their states, and said it had voided agreements they had signed to authorize their states’ participation, according to a copy of the letter.
“This change will have no effect on the operation of Secure Communities in your state,” read the letter, which was signed by John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Governors in the other 11 states had not signed agreements.
Hailed as the future of immigration enforcement, the program allows local law enforcement agencies to check the fingerprints of people they detain, and match them up with a federal immigration and criminal databases, with the goal of deporting criminals. But some state and local governments have refused to participate in the program, or tried to back out of it. Officials in some of those states are criticizing the changes as an act of “bad faith” on the part of the federal government.
Critics have argued that the program ensnares minor offenders and non-criminals, and also puts a strain on local law enforcement resources. Those criticisms helped prompt Immigration and Customs Enforcement to announce reforms.