Gov. Deval Patrick announced on Monday that Massachusetts will not participate in Secure Communities, the Department of Homeland Securityā€™s immigration-enforcementĀ fingerprint-sharing system. New York and Illinois both recently announced they will not participate in the program, either.

The New York Times reported Monday:

A Department of Homeland Security official said that the authorities would continue to expand the Secure Communities program, including in Massachusetts, because it was required by a federal law passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that addresses the sharing of information between the F.B.I. and immigration authorities.

ā€œWe are not going to stop this program because of the governors,ā€ said the official, who spoke anonymously in order to provide insight into a policy decision. ā€œIt is a program that is mandated by law that has the support of the administration and the Congress.ā€

Secure Communities is a fingerprint-sharing system that grants local law enforcement agencies access to FBI criminal history records and Department of Homeland Security immigration records as part of the effort to identify and remove criminal aliens from the United States.Ā As of June 2010, allĀ 67 Florida counties (.pdf) participate in Secure Communities.

The program was created to help identify, detain and deport immigrant criminals who pose a threat to the community. Detractors argue thatĀ the majority of people deported underĀ Secure Communities are minor violators and non-criminals.

The Florida IndependentĀ reported in March that ICE data released through a Freedom of Information Act request shows thatĀ five Florida jurisdictions where Secure Communities is being implemented are among the top 20 jurisdictions with the highest numbers of deportations of non-criminals.

The data also show that under Secure Communities in Florida, from October 2008 through February 2011, more than 14,100 people were arrested or booked into ICE custody. Of that total, more than 4,600 were Level 1 or dangerous criminals, more than 1,800 were Level 2 detainees, almost 2,500 were Level 3 detainees andĀ more than 5,100 were non-criminals.

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., recentlyĀ called on theĀ office of the Inspector General of Homeland Security Ā to speed up a review of Secure Communities.Ā Lofgren expressed her concern because ā€œDepartment of Homeland Security andĀ Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel and contract staff may have made false and misleading statements to local governments, the public and Members of Congress about the deployment of the Secure Communities program.ā€

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