The U.S. government will force Massachusetts to join a controversial federal program to detect and deport illegal immigrants, despite the refusal of Gov. Deval Patrick to endorse it, a senior Homeland Security official tells the Boston Globe. Patrick’s rejection of the Secure Communities program can do little, if anything, to impede the program from expanding statewide by 2013, says the official.
The data-sharing systems the program relies upon are already in place, the official said, and the governor has no legal standing to block their use. Launched in 2008, Secure Communities runs the names and fingerprints of everyone arrested through federal immigration and criminal databases. The purpose is to ensure that offenders who are in this country illegally, especially violent criminals, are detained and deported. The program has been controversial among immigrant advocates, who argue that it could be used against those whose offenses are minor, for example, being caught driving without a license. In rejecting the program, Patrick followed the states of New York and Illinois.