Secure Communities: Southland members of Congress call for Brown to suspend deportation program

Rep. Xavier Becerra joins other lawmakers at a news conference at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on June 10, 2011. Southland Congress members say the federal deportation program Secure Communities is unfair to hard-working, law-abiding immigrants.
Rep. Xavier Becerra joins other lawmakers at a news conference at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on June 10, 2011. Southland Congress members say the federal deportation program Secure Communities is unfair to hard-working, law-abiding immigrants. Corey Moore/KPCC

Several Southland Democratic members of Congress today called on Governor Jerry Brown to suspend California’s cooperation in a federal deportation program. They say the "Secure Communities" program is unfair to many law-abiding immigrants.

On the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, the seven lawmakers said they sent a letter to Governor Brown, urging him to pull out of the program until the Department of Homeland Security completes an investigation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) says its mission is to identify and help deport illegal immigrants who commit serious felonies. Under the program, law enforcement sends ICE the fingerprints of everyone booked into local jails.

But Congresswoman Judy Chu and other lawmakers maintain it does more harm than good. They said in Los Angeles County, for example, about half the people ICE takes into custody have not been convicted of committing a crime, but they end up getting deported anyway. They said the problem is even worse in other counties across the state and that authorities have detained numerous domestic violence victims.

Earlier this week, the L.A. City Council passed a resolution supporting a state bill that would allow counties and cities to opt out of the program.

Some leaders say it’s unclear if L.A. can legally cut its ties to the Secure Communities program, though some states have already suspended their participation, including New York, Illinois and Massachusetts.

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