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Official: It's up to police to decide whether to hold illegal immigrants

  • California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks at a news conference at the State of California building in San Francisco, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Harris is telling local police agencies that it is up to them whether to comply with the federal government's request to hold illegal immigrants. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO — California's top prosecutor said Tuesday it's up to local police agencies to decide whether to comply with federal government requests to hold illegal immigrants.

The statement by state Attorney General Kamala Harris involves the federal Secure Communities program, which was launched in 2008 to catch the worst criminal offenders.

However, Harris said the effort is flawed because about-one third of people targeted by the requests in California have never committed a serious crime.

The Secure Communities program checks the immigration status of people who are arrested for any crime, and federal immigration officials have insisted local police agencies must honor all requests for detentions.

Harris said her office has received dozens of inquiries from sheriffs and police chiefs confused about whether they must comply and hold detainees for up to 48 hours after they otherwise would have been released.


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