Three national immigration advocacy groups obtained a cache of emails between the FBI and the state of California through a Freedom of Information Act request. The messages indicate Secure Communities is detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants who have never been arrested, despite objections from the California Department of Justice.
The federal government has said these are the lowest-priority immigrants for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its Secure Communities effort. The program distributes fingerprint data from people booked at local and county jails to federal law enforcement.
Record numbers of deportations in the last couple of years have led activist groups to call for the end of Secure Communities.
But federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement says almost three-fourths of the people it has deported through Secure Communities in the last three years have criminal records. In the last year, officials say the agency's also taken specific steps to focus on its top priority: deporting serious criminals.