States Undeterred By ICE Letter on Secure Communities
Last week, ICE terminated agreements with states on its controversial immigration program. But that doesn't mean local authorities have given up on opting out.
Last Friday, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, breathed new life into the Secure Communities debate by sending a letter to 39 governors that terminated the program's memoranda of agreement with the states, insisting that ICE did not need the states' approval to implement S-Comm.
Under S-Comm, the FBI shares the fingerprints of suspects booked by state and local law enforcement with the Department of Homeland Security. ICE then places holds, or detainers, on those it believes are in the country illegally. To date, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been deported through this process, which has become a lightning-rod issue for pro-immigrant groups and which ICE hopes to implement nationwide by 2013.
If the intent of Morton's letter was to settle the question of who can and cannot choose to participate in S-Comm (New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts have all tried to opt out in recent months, citing the obstacles the program presents to law enforcement), it doesn't appear to have had the desired effect. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's spokesman told the Boston Globe over the weekend that Patrick intends to continue opposing S-Comm. And in California, where opposition to S-Comm has flourished, Morton's effort to clear the way for its national implementation also looks to be foundering. The TRUST Act, which passed the State Assembly and is now pending in the Senate, would leave it up to each of the state's 58 counties to decide whether to participate. Quintin Mecke, the communications director for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the TRUST Act's sponsor, said Ammiano remained committed to the bill, although he would be considering possible amendments in light of Friday's letter.