President Obama is ending the controversial Secure Communities program as part of his immigration plan, reports the Los Angeles Times. Saying federal agents should focus on deporting “felons, not families,” Obama announced a new initiative, the Priority Enforcement Program, which officials say will target only those who have been convicted of certain serious crimes or who pose a danger to national security. Federal agents will continue to examine local fingerprint records and, in some cases, ask jail officials to hold certain inmates. But the feds will now have to specify that the inmate is the subject of a removal order or is likely deportable.
To many advocates, Secure Communities symbolized what was wrong with the nation’s immigration enforcement strategy. Designed to identify potentially deportable immigrants who had committed crimes, the program provided immigration agents with fingerprint records collected at local jails. Activists complained that the program eroded immigrants’ trust in police and resulted in flawed deportations. Hundreds of local and state governments enacted policies to limit local law enforcement from cooperating with the program.