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In a surprising move, US immigration officials have cancelled their policy of requiring states to participate in a program designed to identify and deport immigrants that have committed crimes. The program is called Secure Communities and has already standing agreements with forty states of the Union.

John Morton, head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office sent a letter to state governors saying that the Secure Communities program was being terminated. The reason for such termination was the finding that the federal program can be run without the assistance of state officials. He assured the states that the termination would not have any effect on the program’s operations.

One of the current procedures used in Secure Communities is the screening of suspect’s fingerprints obtained by local law enforcement by federal immigration authorities. The move is said to be a demonstration that the current administration is tough on border security and illegal immigration. The program is to be expanded nationwide despite Democratic governors refusing to participate in the program.

There are many objections to the program. One concern is that the fingerprint checking deters immigrants from reporting crimes. Another issue is the deportation of low-level criminal offenders aside from serious criminals, making no distinction as to the crime committed nor the reformation for such crimes.