Reporting from Washington— In an unusual move, the Obama administration has told governors they cannot exempt their states from the controversial Secure Communities program, which uses fingerprints collected by local and state police to help immigration authorities identify and deport tens of thousands of criminals each year.
The Department of Homeland Security notified 39 governors Friday that the fingerprint-sharing program did not need their approval to operate in their states, and said it had voided agreements they had signed to authorize their states' participation, according to a copy of the letter.
"This change will have no effect on the operation of Secure Communities in your state," read the letter, which was signed by John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Governors in the other 11 states had not signed agreements.
The action was immediately denounced by some political leaders, immigration advocacy groups, and other opponents of the program.
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