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Opinion: Immigration: Should California suspend participation in Secure Communities?

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Opposition to the federal government’s controversial Secure Communities immigration program appears to be growing, at least among some elected officials.

A group of seven congressional members are asking Gov. Jerry Brown to suspend participation in the program that requires the fingerprints of all arrestees to be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Secure Communities has drawn fire from civil and immigrant rights’ groups, and some law enforcement officials, who say it has failed to meet its stated goal of targeting immigrants convicted of violent crimes and instead led to the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants with no criminal history.

It will be interesting to see if Brown follows the lead of governors in Massachusetts, New York and Illinois; all three states have said they want to stop sharing information with the Department of Homeland Security. The Obama administration has pushed back, insisting state’s can’t back out of the program.

Moreover, Brown signed on to Secure Communities during his tenure as state attorney general. Brown could sidestep the issue by simply waiting to see if a bill making its way through the Legislature is passed. The bill, known as the Trust Act, would put limits on how much information is shared with federal officials and require those counties that want to take part in Secure Communities to opt in, instead of the current system that automatically requires enrollment.

The letter asking Brown to end the state’s participation in Secure Communities was signed by Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles) Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Linda T. Sanchez (D-Lakewood), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) and Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles).

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--Sandra Hernandez

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