A program that gives federal immigration officials access to the fingerprints of undocumented immigrants booked into local jails will start Tuesday across New York state despite staunch opposition from advocates and lawmakers, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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Secure Communities aims at identifying and deporting illegal immigrants who are convicted of crimes. But critics say it has resulted in the deportation of thousands of people who are accused of crimes but not convicted, and erodes the trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
Advocates and others argue that some immigrants may become hesitant to report crimes or act as witnesses, incorrectly believing they risk deportation just by speaking with police.
Already, the fingerprints of suspects in jail are sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under the Secure Communities program, those fingerprints are also shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.