BOSTON — The Patrick administration continues to refuse to sign on to the controversial immigration program known as Secure Communities, even though federal immigration officials have added what they call safeguards.
The program’s stated goal is to deport illegal immigrants who’ve committed “serious crimes.” However, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it has deported many non-criminals. That’s why Gov. Deval Patrick says he won’t voluntarily sign up for the fingerprint-sharing system.
In response, federal officials have have issued a new policy to make sure crime victims and witnesses are not deported, and that the program focuses on “serious criminals.”
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson worries the changes will weaken Secure Communities.
“It certainly sends a bad message to people who violate our laws by coming here illegally, and then commit crimes, be it a misdemeanor or something more serious,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson wants the program in his jail as soon as possible.
The Obama administration says it will implement Secure Communities nationwide by 2013. That’s with or without the permission of state and local authorities.