Washington State just did what San Francisco tried so hard to do but ultimately failed at: It gave the metaphorical finger to Secure Communities, the controversial fingerprinting program that identifies illegal immigrants picked up by local police.
Washington became the first state in the country to refuse to sign an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to implement Secure Communities, when the State Patrol rebuffed the federal agency. The state's governor is reviewing the decision. As reported in the Seattle Times Tuesday:
are a state law-enforcement agency, and we don't want to go down the
road of being an immigration agency," Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said.
"The chief and the governor are of the same mind on this."
Still, the State Patrol left it open for local law enforcement agencies
to decide if they wanted to sign their own agreements with ICE. Secure
Communities works by running fingerprints of detainees taken by local law enforcement
against the federal database to identify immigrants who've had previous
contacts with ICE. It means that people who are picked up for minor
misdemeanors that are never charged by the district attorney can
ultimately be reported to ICE and deported.
"Each law enforcement agency must notify the state if they intend to
participate in Secure Communities and the state will then work with ICE
to activate those jurisdictions," wrote ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice in
an e-mail to SF Weekly. "ICE personnel in Washington state are
currently working to develop an outreach plan to inform local law
enforcement agencies about this capability."
Defying Secure Communities, or S-Comm, has become the latest rallying cry of San
Francisco civil rights activists, Police Chief George Gascon, and
Sheriff Mike Hennessey -- all of whom argue the program scares immigrants away
from reporting crime or cooperating in police investigations.
California's Department of Justice signed an agreement to implement
Secure Communities across the state. Despite Hennessey's vocal efforts
to opt San Francisco out, he was told in a recent meeting with S-Comm
officials he cannot.