California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris told local law enforcement agencies Tuesday that they were not obligated to comply with a federal program whose stated goal is to deport illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes.
It was Harris' first public assessment of Secure Communities. Under the program launched in 2008, all arrestees' fingerprints are sent to immigration officials, who may ask police and sheriff's departments to hold suspects for up to 48 hours after their scheduled release so they can be transferred to federal custody.
Although the intent may have been to improve public safety, Harris said that a review of data from March through June showed that 28% of those targeted for deportation in California as a result were not criminals. Those numbers, she noted, had changed little since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement a year earlier pledged to reform the program to focus on the most serious offenders.
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