Even as federal immigration officials were telling Arlington County, San Francisco and other jurisdictions that they could not opt out of a controversial immigration enforcement program, they were telling other municipalities that they could, according to internal Department of Homeland Security documents.
The documents, released as a result of a lawsuit against DHS by opponents of the program, reveal an agency at odds over how to handle criticism of Secure Communities, the Obama administration's signature immigration enforcement program, without running afoul of constitutional limits on what the federal government can demand of local jurisdictions.
The program sends fingerprints gathered by local law enforcement agencies to the FBI and then through a federal immigration database to identify undocumented immigrants. About 1,049 jurisdictions in 39 states participate, including many in Maryland and Virginia.
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