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ICE Says Local Governments Can't Opt Out Of Agency Program

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By Greg Peppers

The head of the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement says local governments, including Arlington County, Va., cannot opt out of a federal program that checks fingerprints of people who are arrested to see if they are illegal immigrants.

Last month officials in Arlington County voted to opt out of the program, known as Secure Communities.

Suspects who are arrested are fingerprinted. Those fingerprint are run through a federal criminal background data base maintained by the FBI. Under Secure Communities, those fingerprints are automatically checked against immigration records.

Arlington County contends the program could lead to racial profiling and wants to opt out. But ICE Director John Morton says local governments can't opt out because the agreement is between the federal and state governments, not local governments.

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