Federal officials launched the controversial Secure Communities program in Washington, D.C., but not without a fight from some city officials who argue the effort undermines trust between police and local immigrant communities, the Washington Post reports. The program requires that arrestee fingerprints collected by local governments be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement so the federal government can identify illegal immigrants and potentially move to detain or deport them.
The D.C. Council voted to limit the program's reach, saying it could discourage immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses from working with police, ultimately making the city less safe. Secure Communities calls for local jurisdictions to hold a suspected illegal immigrant who has been arrested for 48 hours so ICE can interview the detainee and decide whether to seek deportation. The new D.C. law will allow detention only of those who have been previously convicted of a “dangerous” crime and only for an additional 24 hours beyond the time they would otherwise be held. The federal government must pay for the additional day of incarceration. The bill prohibits city officials from participating in a “generalized search of or inquiry about inmates” conducted by federal authorities.