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Cal. Assembly authorizes Secure Communities opt-out

May 27, 2011

Californian counties are one step closer to gaining the authority to opt out of a federal immigration program of stricter enforcement of illegal immigrants, which has been condemned by opponents for ripping families apart and increasing racial profiling. Immigrant rights groups welcomed the State Assembly's decision to approve a bill that grants the choice to opt out of the Secure Communities program. The bill was first put forward by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, whose district has already sought permission on a national level to opt out of the program.
California has joined an increasing number of states that are demonstrating their opposition to program. Illinois has already said it will opt out of the Secure Communities program, while Maryland and Massachusetts are currently studying whether to do so.

Rep. Ammiano's bill had gained the support of many law enforcement authorities and other public officials, who had openly criticized the program. They have said that is poses a real threat to relations with immigrant communities, making detection and enforcement of criminal activity far more difficult. San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who said the federal program violates "hard-earned trust" between law enforcement and immigrants.

The bill will now be considered by the State Senate. If it passes the Senate, it will then be down to Governor Jerry Brown to sign it in to law, but he has not yet declared whether he would or not, if it gets to his desk.