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Amid pushback, Patrick to uphold law on ‘Secure Communities’

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By Andy Metzger / State House News Service
Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dept. of Homeland SecurityWhile Gov. Deval Patrick is resigned to participating in the federal government’s Secure Communities program, immigrant rights advocates said it will force undocumented immigrants into hiding from local law enforcement.

Secure Communities uses FBI fingerprint data, submitted by local police to determine the identities of individuals who are arrested, and crosschecks it against the Immigration Custom Enforcement agency’s database.

Patrick had initially resisted the program, but said local police would continue the practice of submitting information to the FBI, and that he hoped recently announced tweaks to the program would safeguard it against putting people in fear.

“I think it’s very important here that people not see this as a license to profile. It is about public safety and there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, and I will say the federal government seems to have responded to some of the concerns that we in Massachusetts and in other states have expressed,” Patrick told reporters.

Immigrant groups called on Patrick Thursday to take executive action to resist the federal program but Patrick appeared resigned to its implementation, which is scheduled to begin May 15.

“I am going to uphold the law,” Patrick said Thursday.

Patrick said the state has long known that the Department of Homeland Security would eventually roll out the program in Massachusetts, but he said it’s always been about the FBI sharing fingerprints with immigration officials, which is not an issue the state has control over.

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