Thursday, September 30, 2010; 10:59 PM
Participation in the program, called Secure Communities, was widely believed to be voluntary - a perception reinforced by a Sept 7 letter sent to Congress by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. This week, Arlington joined the District, San Francisco and Santa Clara County, Calif., in voting to opt out of the program.
But the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency now says that opting out of the program is not a realistic possibility - and never was.
Secure Communities, which operates in 32 states and will soon be running nationwide, relies on the fingerprints collected by local authorities when a person is charged with anything from a traffic violation to murder. The fingerprints are sent to state police, and then to the FBI, for criminal background checks.
Under the two-year-old program, ICE is able to access the information sent to the FBI. If the fingerprint matches that of someone known to be in the country illegally, ICE orders the immigrant detained as a first step toward deportation...more