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Illinois Seeking to Protect the Rights of Immigrants

May 7, 2011
Plain English Version

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The Obama administration has a program that checks the fingerprints of every person booked by the police against Department of Homeland Security records. The purpose of the program is to find criminals. Some officials say the program finds violators of immigration laws who can face deportation.

Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois said he was pulling his state out of the program. The program is known as Secure Communities.

In California, the program is under way throughout the state. The Legislature is considering a bill that would allow counties or the police to choose whether to participate. Other states are also looking at the law and deciding what to do.

States are asking whether they must enforce the law or if they can choose not to. The Department of Homeland Security says the law must be enforced nationwide by 2013.

Homeland Security says the program helps the department find criminal immigrants in state and local jails and deporting them. The governor of Illinois says nearly 0ne-third of the immigrants deported from Illinois had no criminal convictions.

Governor Quinn said the program was not deporting convicted criminals, but immigrants here illegally but not convicted of any crime. It is a civil violation for an immigrant to be in the United States illegally; it is not a crime.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked President Obama to suspend the program. They want him to focus on deporting violent criminals, drug traffickers and other serious offenders.

Republicans in Congress want tougher enforcement of immigration laws. They would like to see more of the program.

The New York Times


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