Immigration Skirmishes Brew in Calif., S.C.

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Immigration rights activists and local authorities in San Francisco are not only protesting Arizona's immigration law, they're also angry over a program that took effect in the Golden Gate City two months ago.

Under the government's Secure Communities Program, federal agents are granted access to a database of fingerprints taken at jails. The intent of the new program is to determine who is in the U.S. illegally and whether or not they have a criminal history.

"It allows ICE and local law enforcement agencies to know as much as possible about people in local custody without any additional costs or procedural changes by local officers," said Richard Rocha, deputy press secretary for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Although Arizona's new immigration legislation has drawn the most national attention, the Secure Communities Program will likely have a broader impact. This is because of its potential to capture and deport so many immigrants nationwide.

"Secure Communities is an overbroad dragnet that will end up destroying communities and families while driving victims and witnesses underground," said Hans Meyer, policy coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

The law is currently in effect in 480 jurisdictions in 27 states.

Meanwhile, another illegal immigration fight has been unfolding in South Carolina.

A Summerville city councilman has proposed an ordinance requiring employers to check the immigration status of workers.

According to council member Walter Bailey, the proposal was prompted by the Obama administration's challenge of Arizona's new immigration law.

"It was outrageous that when, by default, the state of Arizona has to go in there and do the job the federal government ought to be doing - instead of showing appreciation and support in Arizona, the federal government sues," Bailey said.
    
The proposed law would also require people to prove they are in the country legally before being allowed to rent an apartment.

"The federal government and to a lesser extent the state government is not doing a whole lot about the immigration problem," Bailey said.

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