Feds Can Screen Immigration Status in All Counties
CAMPO, CA - OCTOBER 08: A U.S. flag put up by activists who oppose illegal immigration flies near the US-Mexico border fence in an area where they search for border crossers October 8, 2006 near Campo, California. The activists want the fence expanded into a fully-lit double-fenced barrier between the US (R) and Mexico. US Fish and Wildlife Service wardens and environmentalists warn that a proposed plan by US lawmakers to construct 700 miles of double fencing along the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border, in an attempt to wall-out illegal immigrants, would also harm rare wildlife. Wildlife experts say cactus-pollinating insects would fly around fence lights, birds that migrate by starlight in the desert wilderness would be confused, and large mammals such as jaguars, Mexican wolves, Sonoran pronghorn antelope, and desert bighorn sheep would be blocked from migrating across the international border, from California to Texas. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Friday, Feb 25, 2011 Updated at 5:34 PM PDT
Federal authorities can now screen the immigration status of arrestees in every county in California.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday that the last six counties were hooked up to the so-called Secure Communities program this week.
Through January, the agency had arrested 65,000 people in California who were identified through the program. Immigration officials say more than 70 percent of them had a prior criminal conviction.
The program began in California in 2009 and is currently being rolled out across the nation. Under the program, arrestees' fingerprints are checked against Department of Homeland Security records and immigration officials are notified when there is a hit.
The program has faced ardent criticism from immigrant advocates who say involving local police in immigration enforcement discourages illegal immigrants from reporting crimes.
Copyright Associated Press