The federal Secure Communities program, which has drawn protests from some state and local governments, will offer greater protection to crime victims and witnesses, the Washington Post reports. Through Secure Communities, the FBI shares the fingerprint data of people arrested by local and state law enforcement agencies with federal authorities, who can use the information to check for immigration violations.
Immigrant organizations have complained that the program does not distinguish enough between minor offenders and serious criminals. They say there is widespread concern the program would silence victims and witnesses, who are often reluctant to report crimes for fear of being swept up in arrests and tagged for deportation. “It is agency policy not to put these people into immigration proceedings,’ said John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Massachusetts, Illinois and New York have said they would pull out of the program. Baltimore and Oakland, Calif., also voted to cancel participation.