California Attorney General Kamala Harris jumped in to the immigration debate on Tuesday by announcing law enforcement in the state can ignore Obama administration requests to hold undocumented immigrants. Harris said law enforcement agencies were not obligated to comply with the federal law called Secure Communities.
Harris’ announcement is seen as a win for immigration reform because she is the chief law officer of the state that boasts the largest number of Secure Communities deportations.
Harris said her office has received dozens of inquiries from sheriffs and police chiefs confused about whether they must comply and hold detainees for up to 48 hours after they otherwise would have been released, the Associated Press reported.
“In the interest of public safety, it is our recommendation that those chiefs and sheriffs make a decision about whether or not they will detain an illegal immigrant based on their priorities,” Harris said.
“Kamala Harris’ announcement yesterday that local police departments may ignore federal immigration detainers is a blow to the Obama Administration’s leading deportation program, said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter.
“The announcement is among the biggest victories for immigrant-rights advocates who have said for years that the program does not target hardened criminals as the government claims, but instead leads to the deportation of any undocumented immigrant who has contact with the criminal justice system,” Wessler said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics indicate that 2,388 undocumented immigrants with no convictions were detained and deported after arrests in California under the program between March 1 and June 30, according to the AP.