SAN FRANCISCO -- Hundreds of immigrants and their supporters joined Archbishop George Niederauer at St. Mary's Cathedral on Jan. 28 to demonstrate their opposition to Secure Communities, a federal program that has resulted in the deportation of more than 60,000 undocumented residents of California in the last two years.
Seven in every 10 of those 60,000 were not convicted or were arrested for a minor offense, such as selling food without a permit, according to the website of Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Catholic introducing legislation that will allow cities and counties in California to opt out of the program. Niederauer has endorsed the proposal.
Currently, participating police and sheriff departments send the fingerprints of all arrestees to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for verification of immigration status, usually while the person is still in pretrial custody. Those found to be undocumented are held for up to two days in local jails until ICE picks them up for detention and potential deportation.