A controversial federal program involving checks on a persons’ immigration status went into effect Tuesday in Massachusetts. The Secure Communities program will have those who are arrested and booked by state or local authorities automatically submit their fingerprints to be checked in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Homeland Security database.
The program, opposed by Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and immigration advocates, is being lauded by local law enforcement officials, according to New England Cable News. However, like many other states that have implemented the program, there has been much backlash. Union Organizer of Boston activist group Local 26 Alejandra Duarte believes the program is only going to make matters worse, especially those who do not possess U.S. citizenship.
“People live in fear. They are afraid to go on the streets. They are afraid to go to work. They are afraid something is going to happen,” Duarte told the news source. “Their kids are going to be home alone, and they are going to end up being deported.”
One government official that was strongly opposed to implementing the program was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. However, despite his attempts to reject it, on May 15, the program went active across the state.
Secure Communities has been met with opposition from governors nationwide, partly due to the fact that the program is being federally implemented, giving that state governors have no choice in the matter. All 50 states are expected to have implemented the program by 2013.
“At the end of the day, this is a federal program,” a Department of Homeland Security official told the New York Times. “We have to make our own decisions based on our law enforcement operational needs.”