City Council votes to oppose ‘Secure Communities’

The Los Angeles City Council voted today in favor of opting out of the controversial “Secure Communities” program that requires police and law enforcement agencies to submit fingerprints of arrested people to federal immigration officials.

City Councilman Bernard Parks, who is also a former Los Angeles police chief, introduced the motion supporting current state legislation that proposes to suspend the federal program in California.  Parks said that while the intention of “Secure Communities” was to target undocumented immigrants with violent criminal backgrounds, the program has gone off-course.

Almost 70 percent of people deported under “Secure Communities” had no convictions or were accused of minor offenses, according to a report by the city’s chief legislative analyst.

Parks pointed out that one of the biggest problems with the program is that it hinders safety by making victims think twice before reporting a crime.  Councilwoman Jan Perry, who co-sponsored the motion, said “Secure Communities” also threatens victims of domestic violence, who would be too fearful of getting deported if they report their abusers.

According to LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore, the city has been much safer since it established Special Order 40 in 1979 preventing police officers from considering immigration status when initiating a police action.

The “Secure Communities” program was created in 2008. It requires police to submit suspects’ fingerprints to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so they can be cross-checked with federal deportation orders.

The states of New York, Massachussetts and Illinois have recently suspended their participation in the federal program, citing some of the same concerns the L.A. City Council voiced today.

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