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November 16, 2010 > County denied opt-out of immigration enforcement program

County denied opt-out of immigration enforcement program

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Laurel Anderson

Santa Clara County learned on November 9 that federal and state officials will block the County's efforts to opt out of the Secure Communities Program, a federal program through which fingerprint data collected by local agencies from those arrested is shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

County officials say sharing fingerprint data was required with effect from May 2010, without approval from the Board of Supervisors or any other County official. After the County raised concerns about the program, Senior ICE official David Venturella, who directs the Secure Communities Program, sent a letter to County Counsel Miguel Marquez stating that ICE would meet with counties to discuss removing them from the program.

On September 28, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to seek to remove the County from the information-sharing program.

Secure Communities Director Venturella met with County Counsel Marquez on November 9. When Marquez informed Venturella that the County would like to be removed from the Secure Communities program, Marquez says Venturella went back on his word that counties would be allowed to opt out of the program.

"ICE now insists that there was never any avenue for the County to opt out," Marquez said. "This is clearly inconsistent with our written communication with ICE, as well as what ICE has told the public and congressional representatives about this program."

According to ICE reports, ICE has already arrested over 500 people in Santa Clara County through Secure Communities since it became operational in May, a quarter of whom had no criminal record.

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