Designed to identify potentially deportable immigrants who had committed crimes, the Secure Communities program provided immigration agents with fingerprint records collected at local jails. In many cases, agents would ask local law enforcement officials to hold inmates believed to be in the country illegally beyond the length of their jail terms so that they could be transferred to federal custody.
On Thursday President Obama announced he is ending the program as part of his larger immigration strategy.
Activists complained that the program eroded immigrants' trust in police and resulted in the deportations of people who had committed no crime or only minor infractions. At the same time, hundreds of local and state governments, including in California, enacted policies to limit law enforcement from cooperating with the program, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Saying federal agents should focus on deporting "felons, not families," Obama announced a new initiative, the Priority Enforcement Program, which officials say will target only those who have been convicted of certain serious crimes or who pose a danger to national security.