M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Reporting: ‘Voluntary’ immigration program really isn’t

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Cities and counties can’t stop U.S. immigration officials from sifting through local police records to root out illegal immigrants, even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement has characterized the program as voluntary since it started up two years ago, federal documents show. …

Since Secure Communities began rolling out in October 2008, ICE has indicated that local participation is voluntary. As recently as August, it outlined a process for local officials to object and to negotiate a resolution that “may include … removing the jurisdiction from the deployment plan.”

At the same time, ICE’s internal documents make it clear that the agency has always considered Secure Communities to be a federal-only program in which local officials have no say. Just last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she didn’t “view this as an opt-in/opt-out program.”

So which is it? Can cities and counties opt out?

ICE officials have repeatedly refused to clarify whether local jurisdictions can prevent ICE from using their police records to identify deportable illegal aliens. Asked to explain conflicting language in ICE documents that appears to characterize Secure Communities as both mandatory and optional, spokesmen for the agency said they couldn’t comment.

Full story (Alex Johnson/msnbc.com)

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Written by Alex

October 15, 2010 at 7:25 am

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