Santa Clara County Votes to Welcome Criminal Aliens
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Santa Clara County is the home of San Jose and Silicon Valley, so there is a fair amount of California immo-insanity present. Even so, the idea that the Board of Supervisors would unanimously vote to opt out of DHS’ Secure Communities program is pretty stunning. That means police will now be disallowed from checking arrestees’ fingerprints to sort out the dangerous criminals and illegal aliens.

Is it not a no-brainer that law enforcement’s wonderful fingerprint databases should be used as much as possible to protect public safety by removing the bad guys?

Not so, according to the friends of criminal aliens. Even though immigrants are often the victims of illegal alien criminals, the open borders extremists object to any enforcement, even of the worst of the worst.

Santa Clara Supes Vote To Opt Out Of Controversial Secure Communities Program, KTVU, September 28, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to opt out of a federal fingerprint reporting program aimed at criminals suspected of being in the country illegally.

The Secure Communities program was implemented in Santa Clara County in May by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

County officials said the program was implemented without the approval of the board, although the Department of Homeland Security has said that Secure Communities is a voluntary program and has provided a potential opt-out process.

Federal immigration officials claim the program is an important information-sharing tool for identifying and expediting the removal of illegal immigrants who are taken into local law enforcement custody.

Opponents of the program, many of them immigrants and immigration rights activists, say the program has been forced on the county by the federal government and the state, and that it hampers public safety.

They claim that implementation of the program results in a disregard for basic civil rights, opens the door to racial profiling, and will have a negative fiscal impact on the county.

”We need the police and we need security, and they need us as well,” one Spanish-speaking resident said through a translator at the board meeting. ”We are against this law and any law that attacks our community.”

After hearing testimonies from about 20 people on the issue, the board voted to authorize efforts to opt out of the program, agreeing that implementation of the program conflicts with the county’s policy not to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration law and also potentially jeopardizes the safety of residents by discouraging them from calling police for fear of having their immigration status be questioned.

”It doesn’t make our communities any safer,” Supervisor George Shirakawa said. ”I think it creates fear among residents and prevents them from reporting crimes.”

Shirakawa said he is concerned that the gesture to opt out will be merely symbolic, but added, ”It does send a message to our residents that we are not going to create an atmosphere of fear in our communities.”

The program works by having local agencies take fingerprints of people who are arrested and checking the fingerprints against the Department of Homeland Security’s identification system and FBI criminal databases. If there is a match, federal agents work with the county in detaining, questioning, and eventually taking custody of the individuals.

Since its activation in the county, the program has resulted in the arrest of 339 illegal immigrants, nearly 75 percent of whom were convicted criminals, according to ICE regional spokeswoman Virginia Kice. She said 98 of those people had prior convictions for serious or violent offenses.

”As these figures demonstrate, Secure Communities is a major step forward in ICE’s efforts to work with local law enforcement to promote public safety in Santa Clara County, and we would welcome an opportunity to discuss the results further with the Board of Supervisors and other county officials,” Kice said in response to the board’s vote.

Opponents argue that although the program targets serious offenders, it sweeps up even people with no criminal convictions or convictions for minor offenses like driving without a license.

Driving without a license often indicates an illegal alien who cannot read English road signs and whose driving experience may consist of piloting a clunker over Mexican dirt roads. It’s not a ”minor offense” when dangerous drivers are on the highways.

These leftist groups demand non-enforcement of even laws that clearly protect the public, extending to the point of warning drivers of drunk driving checkpoints, because inebriated drivers are often illegal – see my blog Anti-Safety Protestors Interrupt Police Checkpoints.

Sanctuary for lawbreaking criminals – no matter who is hurt or killed – that’s the goal of open-borders extremists.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the entire Lone Star state has instituted Secure Communities:

Immigration check program goes statewide in Texas

SAN ANTONIO – A federal program that automatically checks the immigration status of suspects booked into local lockups officially went statewide in Texas on Wednesday, two years after the nationwide crackdown began in Houston jails.

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