The mayor of Washington D.C., Vincent Gray, recently asserted that he doesn’t want the relationship between local undocumented immigrants and law enforcement officials to change due to the implementation of the Secure Communities program. The program began in the city on June 5.
The controversial program has made headlines in recent months. The federally mandated program allows local law enforcement to share fingerprints of undocumented immigrants that are charged with high level crimes with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. However, some critics of the program say that immigrants charged with low level crimes are affected, which many fear will cause harm in the future.
Gray told The Washington Times that the program not only jeopardizes trust between the immigrants and officials, but it will make everyone less safe. Some believe that because local police are sharing the information, there will be less of a chance for undocumented immigrants to stand in as witnesses or report crimes because they may fear they will be deported.
According to the Washington Examiner, Councilmember Phil Mendelson is in agreement with Gray in the push toward separating the state from others with strict immigration laws. Mendelson said that although it is important to catch criminals, the program has crossed the line several times.
“It’s hard to argue that if a person commits a violent crime, and is in this country illegally, they should be deported. It’s hard to argue against that,” Mendelson told the news source. “That’s what the federal immigration authorities have said they want, but that’s not what they’ve done.”
Since the passing of Arizona’s tough S.B. 1070 provision, many states have also started to execute stricter immigration laws without U.S. citizenship. However, Gray wants Washington D.C. to stand apart.
“We will not let Arizona happen in D.C.,” Gray told the Washington Times.