For about two years, San Francisco has been in a back-and-forth with Immigration and Customs Enforcement about Secure Communities, a controversial finger-print sharing program that’s resulted in the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants. The program is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to focus immigration enforcement on those undocumented immigrants who commit crimes–a strategy that pundits believe is aimed at gaining support for comprehensive immigration reform by beefing up the President’s reputation as tough on border security. Take this excerpt from President Barack Obama’s speech today in El Paso, Texas:
Now, I know that the increase in deportations has been a source of controversy. But I want to emphasize: we are not doing this haphazardly; we are focusing our limited resources on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income. As a result, we increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent.
Those opposed to Secure Communities would point out that the program has also resulted in the deportation of a large number of non-criminals. In San Francisco, this issue has inspired the county Sheriff Mike Hennessey to announce that he’ll no longer comply with Secure Communities. Yesterday, I sat down with KALW’s News Director Holly Kernan to talk about the legal issues surrounding Secure Communities–and whether or not local governments can be compelled to participate in the program. Transcript after the jump.