The Obama administration has told governors they cannot exempt their states from the controversial Secure Communities program, reports the Los Angeles Times. The program uses fingerprints collected by local and state police to help immigration authorities identify and deport tens of thousands of criminals each year. Homeland Security notified 39 governors Friday that the fingerprint-sharing program did not need their approval to operate in their states, and said it had voided agreements they had signed to authorize their states’ participation.
The action was immediately denounced by some political leaders, immigration advocacy groups, and other opponents of the program. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren Rep. (D-San Jose) called the decision to cancel the agreements “astonishing.” The decision is “an insult” to the governors and “the latest in a long line of deceptive DHS theatrics,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU legislative office in Washington. Begun in 2008, Secure Communities was chiefly intended to identify and deport convicted felons found to be in the country illegally.