Immigrants rights activists marching against the implementation of Secure Communities in August.
Lawmakers in the District are considering ways to limit the city’s
participation in Secure Communities. The national program requires local jurisdictions to share arrest
information, including fingerprint data, with federal immigration
authorities. A measure introduced today at the D.C. Council, and co-sponsored by all
13 members, would limit the amount of time the city would hold
suspected undocumented immigrants at the local jail on what are known
as “civil detainers”.
These are requests from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to hold an
individual at the jail after he or she has been arrested, booked and is
otherwise free to go. Under Secure Communities, jails send fingerprint data to ICE
databases. If there is a “hit”, a detainer will be issued.
Typically, jurisdictions will hold someone on a civil detainer for 48
hours after their arrest. If ICE doesn’t pick the person up, he or
she is free to go.
The D.C. Council proposal would mandate that these individuals be
released after 24 hours -- unless they have been arrested for a violent
crime. The measure follows an earlier order this year by Mayor
Vincent Gray, saying law enforcement officers in D.C. are not allowed
to ask suspects about their immigration status.