Illegal immigrants who are arrested in minor crimes will no longer be targeted for deportation, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Obama administration announced the enforcement policy change in an apparent concession to the increasing number of jurisdictions pushing back against its Secure Communities program. Immigrant advocates as well as some police chiefs and sheriffs have complained that detention orders under the program were being issued indiscriminately, snaring people who were driving without a license or selling tamales on private property.
In October, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced that his department would no longer comply with federal requests to hold low-level arrestees without significant criminal records. Previously, federal agents were instructed to treat misdemeanor offenders as a low priority but were not prohibited from issuing detainer requests for them. The detainers instruct local jailers, typically sheriffs, to hold an arrestee for up to 48 hours longer than the person’s criminal charge would have allowed, giving immigration authorities more time to take them into custody. Under the new policy, federal agents may issue detainers only for those convicted or charged with a felony; those with three or more misdemeanor convictions, excluding traffic offenses and other minor crimes; and those whose misdemeanors are more serious, such as offenses involving violence or driving under the influence.