How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Understanding the escalating controversy over Secure Communities

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A detainee waits to be processed at an immigrant detention facility Arizona. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A heated controversy over the federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities has been brewing since last year, when several local jurisdictions around the country tried to opt out of the program, only to learn they couldn't. But in the past month, it has escalated to a boiling point.

Since then, a series of internal emails released revealed varying degrees of miscommunication between federal immigration officials and state officials over the mandatory nature of the fingerprint-sharing program, which allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jail systems to be checked against the Homeland Security department’s immigration records. The emails irked some elected officials, including Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, who has called for an investigation.

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