“The police chiefs and sheriffs have it within their discretion — within their authority — to honor that request or not.”
California’s top law enforcer said local police departments can choose whether to comply with a federal program that targets unauthorized immigrants — even if participation in that program is mandatory.
Attorney General Kamala Harris said she released the guidance Tuesday, in the form of a bulletin to law enforcement, because she has received numerous inquiries from those agencies seeking clarification on the Secure Communities program.
Under Secure Communities, police officers and sheriff’s deputies run detainees’ fingerprints through federal databases. If a suspect is deemed to be an unauthorized immigrant, that person is put on a deportation hold and transferred to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The program has been the focus of much controversy, including lawsuits. Supporters said it helps improve public safety by targeting unauthorized immigrants who have broken the law, while opponents said it unfairly captures a large amount of people whose only violation is being in the United States without permission.
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