District of Columbia council members announced Tuesday they plan to defy federal immigration enforcement orders and not implement Secure Communities as scheduled Tuesday. Council members plan to pass a law instructing local police to ignore requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold certain people who have been arrested for low-level crimes, according to the Huffington Post.
The Secure Communities program sends fingerprints of anyone who’s booked in a local or county jail to federal immigration officials who can then flag someone for immigration detention. Fingerprint data is shared even if that person is never charged or is ultimately cleared of their crime.
“It’s hard to argue that if a person commits a violent crime and is in this country illegally, that they shouldn’t be deported … and that’s what the federal immigration authorities have said they want,” D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, who will introduce the bill said on Monday, the Huffington Post reports. “That’s not what they’ve done. What we’ve seen over and over again is that people not convicted of a violent crime are being held, and are being held.”
The Council members cite community trust as one of the reasons for defying the federal orders to implement Secure Communities.
“Police rely on the trust of those community members that their immigration status will not be threatened by their cooperation in local law enforcement investigations,” D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said. “Secure Communities jeopardizes that trust.”