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D.C. Council Bill Attempts To Block Participation In Program Targeting Immigrants

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By Patrick Madden

The D.C. Council is trying to block police in the District from joining a federal program that shares fingerprint data with federal immigration authorities. The program is known as Secure Communities. When someone is arrested by local police, their fingerprints are matched against a national database. It's used to catch illegal immigrants and many jurisdictions nation-wide, including Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia, have signed on to the program.

D.C.'s Police Chief Cathy Lanier has expressed interest in joining, but city council member Phil Mendelson says there are concerns the program leads to racial profiling and ruins efforts at community policing.

"What has been the case in other jurisdictions where arrests have been, all that's needed to send the data to ICE or Immigrations, is that there are innocent people who get caught up, people who, the most minor charges that end up getting up dropped, get caught up in the system," says Mendelson.

He is introducing a bill that would prohibit D.C. police from sending arrest data to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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