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Sheriff: SF Should Honor Sanctuary City Policy

The San Francisco sheriff is looking to opt out of the Secure Communities program and says the city should honor its sanctuary city policy.

The federal program scheduled to begin on June 1, which uses the fingerprints of arrestees to check their immigration status, undermines San Francisco's long-standing sanctuary city policy, the Associated Press reports.

Sheriff Michael Hennessey said the Secure Communities program is in direct conflict with the city's policy that that requires law enforcement to report only those born outside the U.S. who are booked for felonies.

San Francisco's sanctuary city policy has been in place since 1989.

As a result, the sheriff sent a letter to the California attorney general requesting that the state Department of Justice not share the city's fingerprint data with federal immigration authorities.

As previously discussed, Secure Communities is a federal program which will automatically link the fingerprint databases of state justice departments with a database used by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

In addition the program, which has been rolled out in more than 160 local jurisdictions and is expected to be nationwide by 2013, automatically checks the immigration status of anyone arrested or booked for either a misdemeanor or felony.

Secure Communities program officials say the new system has been a help to public safety and saves law enforcement officers time and money. It also is said to remove the risk of allegations of racial profiling.

But critics say that people booked for even minor offenses could be swept into the federal immigration system.

Today, more than 20 states and several California counties have already implemented the program.