City Council Criticizes Federal Program | NBC Southern California

City Council Criticizes Federal Program

The LA City Council voted Tuesday to Support a Bill in the Legislature that Would Allow Counties to "Opt Out" of a Controversial Immigration Enforcement Program

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    Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks and Councilwoman Jan Perry called on the city Tuesday to support limiting the scope of local participation in a controversial federal deportation program. The council voted to support a bill in the legislature which would do just that. (Published Tuesday, June 7, 2011)

    Magali Dominguez, 22, entered California illegally eight years ago. Now she wears an ankle bracelet, part of her deportation back to Mexico.

    Her status came to light after she was arrested for selling hot dogs on a street corner without a permit.

    "It was wrong because I don't have any permit, but I didn't do a crime," Dominguez, an undocumented immigrant said.

    Her case, one of many that has caused cities such as Los Angeles to re-think its participation in a controversial federal program called "Secure Communities."

    The program allows federal immigration officials access to fingerprints of individuals arrested by local police.

    The goal was to target those accused of serious crimes such as rape and murder, and deport them.

    "We will identify these people. We will get to them before they're released from custody," said John Morton, Director, Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

    But now there is a concern that the program is also being used to track down those arrested for lesser, non-violent crimes.

    ICE’s own records show less than half of the estimated 78,000 deported from California had prior felony convictions or three misdemeanors.

    "What were troubled with, is not only is a perception that's growing in the immigrant community that they're subject to being caught up in this net of "Secure Communities" for a minor offense," said LAPD Assistant Chief, Michel Moore. "That is going to drive a wedge between law enforcement, and those very communities that we need to strengthen, rather than weaken," states.

    So the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution supporting a bill in the legislature that would allow counties to "opt out" of the immigration enforcement program.

    "This is a home rule issue.  The city of LA should set policies as it relates to how they conduct business with the community in which they serve," Councilman Bernard Parks said.