Washington has become the 34th state to activate fully the controversial Secure Communities program, reports the Seattle Times. The program allows the fingerprints of everyone booked into local jails to be checked against a national immigration database.
Established in 2008, Secure Communities has been divisive almost from the start, with immigrant advocates saying it snags immigrants who’ve committed minor offenses. States from California to New York have fought its implementation. Secure Communities uses fingerprints instead of names. The prints, once collected, are funneled through a state database to the FBI, where ICE can access them, checking them against its own databases for matches. Federal officials credit the program with helping to remove 129,000 convicted criminal immigrants from the U.S. since 2008. Craig Keller, with a group called Respect Washington, declared “sanctuary for criminal aliens is now evaporating.”